She will serve as the second spokeswoman for Real Talk with Miss Florida, an awareness campaign launched in 2016 by Advanced Recovery Systems and the Miss Florida Organization. The program aims to save lives by educating students in Florida about the realities of drug and alcohol addiction.
“I’m so excited to continue the legacy,” Zeng told DrugRehab.com. “My goal as Miss Florida is to reach as many students as possible with my message.”
Zeng said awareness programs like Real Talk are critically important because our nation is now facing an unprecedented heroin and prescription opioid epidemic. According to the latest provisional estimates from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, approximately 50,000 Americans died of an opioid overdose from February 2016 to January 2017.
“It’s a huge crisis in our country right now,” said Zeng.
During last year’s inaugural Real Talk campaign, Miss Florida 2016 Courtney Sexton presented at 23 middle and high schools throughout the state. She shared the program’s message with more than 5,000 students.
Zeng hopes to build on Sexton’s accomplishments by visiting at least 25 schools. She looks forward to educating teens about drug and alcohol abuse and the risk for addiction.
“Students that are this young don’t know these dangers,” said Zeng. “One substance use could trigger an addiction, and there are so many consequences they haven’t even realized or thought about.”
The program will extend its reach to Florida colleges this year. Zeng says it’s important to start conversations with college students about addiction because of the prevalence of substance abuse in college culture.
As a member of the Alpha Chi Omega sorority, she is particularly excited to share the dangers of substance abuse with students who are new to Greek life.
She says that many Greek communities on college campuses lack the resources to properly address substance abuse issues among their members. She hopes that Real Talk will serve as a catalyst to improve prevention efforts and provide better support for college students in recovery.
“It’s important to raise awareness and create a support system within the Greek community,” said Zeng.
Zeng is currently finalizing her visit schedule for Real Talk, and she looks forward to adding as many schools as possible to her tour.
Teachers, administrators and faculty members can visit DrugRehab.com to request a Real Talk with Miss Florida presentation at their school. Real Talk events are free and can be tailored to students of all ages.
You can also contact the Miss Florida Organization to book Zeng for an upcoming event. The Miss Florida Organization is a local franchise of the Miss America Organization, a 501(c)(4) nonprofit devoted to empowering young women to accomplish their personal, professional and educational goals.