The South Miami Drug-Free Coalition and South Miami Senior High Cobrawesomeness Club held the seventh annual Youth Dialogue Day on March 16th at South Miami Senior High.  This event brings youth and community leaders together to hear teens’ concerns and find solutions. Attendees included law enforcement, school administrators, elected officials, non-profit and faith leaders, youth serving organizations, business leaders and health care providers and parents.  Prior to the event, the Cobrawesomeness members conduct a survey to determine a set of hot topics that concern youth.  These topics are discussed during the event.   Small groups of four students and four adults sat together and the students discussed each topic for about 15 minutes.  Adults were encouraged to really listen and validate the students concerns. Students then rotated tables to begin the next discussion.  The final round was a solution session, ending with one adult and one teen from each table presenting a recap of each topic and the solutions discussed.   Throughout the day, attendees are encouraged to write notes or thoughts on each topic.  This year the group discussed topics such as: social media, academic pressure, drug and alcohol abuse, peer pressure, school logistics and school and community safety.   More than half the adult participants had participated in this event in the past, a demonstration of their concern and commitment to youth in South Miami and surrounding communities.  Student participants were recruited from the high school’s clubs such as SADD, National Honor Society, Science club and others.  Thanks to a generous donation from the South Miami Rotary Club, all participants enjoyed lunch together before the event ended.

Last fall, and in anticipation of this year’s event, 19 Cobrawesomeness students, along with their adviser Mercy Aykart, engaged in Lead & Seed Training sponsored by the Miami Coalition.  Lead & Seed is a program that trains students to implement their own substance abuse prevention program in their schools or communities.  This training gives students powerful tools to use in the prevention process.  Students learned how to compile data and identify the top issues for the community, create an action plan and conduct an evaluation of their program for effectiveness.  These students have committed to year-long substance abuse prevention efforts in their school.  The goal of the Lead & Seed program is to empower youth to make changes that improve the lives of fellow students by decreasing underage drinking and substance abuse in their schools.

If you would like to know more about the South Miami Drug-Free Coalition, contact Alita Patterson Irigoyen at


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