NEW FAIRFIELD - Members of the New Fairfield Youth Commission have invited local boards and clubs to join forces today to think about strategies to protect local teens from underage drinking.

The meeting, at 11 a.m. in the Community Room of the New Fairfield Public Library on Route 39, has been in the works for a while, said Régine Lambrech , chairwoman of the youth commission. The panel planned to meet with
Gary Najarian , director of the Connecticut Coalition to Stop Underage Drinking, to discuss what other towns have done to combat teen drinking, but Najarian was not free until today. "We can't bury our heads," said Lambrech. "It's (a problem) here. I would like us to be the impetus behind a change in the right direction for our town. One life saved is well worth any effort we put into it." Lambrech invited
New Fairfield High School
administrators including the superintendent and the high school's student council members, the town Board of Education , the Lions Club , the Knights of Columbus and Jaycees, the parent-teacher organization, local church pastors and selectmen from Sherman and New Fairfield. "We feel it is something everyone should be involved in," Lambrech said.
Greg Horan , a grand knight with the Knights of Columbus from St. Edward the Confessor Church , believes parents and the whole community need to learn about the problems kids face. Automobile accidents linked to drinking have claimed the lives of local teens. While New Fairfield is a great community, it is in "great denial" of the problems youth have with drugs and alcohol, Horan said. "I hope to present the program to the community to raise awareness," said Horan. "We want to find solutions to implement to protect our kids," said Lambrech. Najarian is scheduled to give the panel proven strategies towns have put in place to deter underage drinking. "We are anxious to explore how it would work and whether it would work in our town," Lambrech said. Lambrech hopes to assemble a group to put the things they learn into practice. "We want to protect and educate the kids to the use of safe parties and safe driving," said Lambrech. She said as youth start to experiment with drugs and alcohol at younger ages, communities not only have to deal with the problem at hand, but face the problems of the past and future. "Young people are our biggest asset," said Horan. So many cry for help, he said, but "we don't see it until it is too late."

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