Groves High School freshman Evan Oleshanski attempts a distracted and impared driving exercise supervised by Jeff Colby, of McLaren Oakland Hospital.

Groves High School freshman Evan Oleshanski attempts a distracted and impared driving exercise supervised by Jeff Colby, of McLaren Oakland Hospital.

Photo by Deb Jacques


Youth Dialogue Day stresses that choices carry consequences

‘If they get caught one time, it will never go off their records’

By: Linda Shepard | Birmingham - Bloomfield Eagle | Published March 26, 2019

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BIRMINGHAM — By demonstrating the real-life consequences of substance abuse, the Birmingham Bloomfield Community Coalition’s Youth Action Board aims to help teens make informed decisions.

The board’s annual Choices Youth Dialogue Day included court sessions on alcohol- and drug-related offenses, discussion groups, and more. Live court sessions were held before Judge Diane D’Agostini, of the 48th District Court in Bloomfield Hills.     

“The court cases make a big impact,” said Seaholm High School senior Abby Williams, who serves as the YAB student co-president. “I feel a lot of kids don’t realize that the bad choices they make have consequences.

“I think alcohol is a big problem,” she said. “And I see a lot of teens vaping at school. Everyone is really stressed — their mental health and the pressures from parents and students are not helping at all. And social media is a whole realm of people comparing their lives to others.”

“The students who observe the live court session witness the long-lasting effects that drunk driving and drug use have on the individual, their families and public safety,” D’Agostini said in a statement. “Hopefully, it makes a strong impact on their future as they are confronted with these choices.”

“We have the defendants, the lawyers and the judge — they talk to the students and explain how they went down this road,” said Carol Mastroianni, YAB’s executive director. “The judge explains how she makes decisions, giving an insider’s perspective that you wouldn’t get by just going to court.”

Mastroianni said the Choices Youth Dialogue Day, held this year on March 22 at First Presbyterian Church in Birmingham, also included subject-related games and speakers. “We have a younger person in recovery who shares his story about how just a couple of bad choices changed the trajectory of his life, in a direction he never thought he’d go down,” she said.

“We have questions on the tables, and we have distracted driver simulators brought in by several hospitals,” Mastroianni said. “We explain the new minor in possession laws. What (teens) don’t know is that if they get caught one time, it will never go off their records. We need parents to know this. It is huge. Don’t host parties. There are certain jobs (teens) won’t be able to get, and later in life they may not qualify for federal housing. And that is just the tip of the iceberg.”    

Public, private and parochial high school students from the Birmingham and Bloomfield areas were invited to the event to discuss balancing the pressures of school, work, sports, clubs, family, faith, friendships and play.

“Choices Youth Dialogue Day is an extremely valuable opportunity for teens to be exposed to the reality of substance abuse,” Groves High School senior Tasnia Hossain said in a statement. “I have attended this event for the past two years, and can say with certainty that it is a very powerful, emotionally charged day. As teens, we tend to live in the moment. As great as that is, we must also be aware that the choices we make on a daily basis shape us into who we are.”

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