From left, Ashley Rhea of Join Together Atlantic County; Kathy Fox, principal of Brigantine Middle School; Brigantine Middle School eighth grader Naomi Green, first place poster contest winner; and school Counselor Greg Smallwood.

ABSECON – Join Together Atlantic County, a countywide substance misuse prevention coalition, has announced the winners of an underage drinking PSA contest for Atlantic County sixth through eighth graders.

The theme of the contest was a message to parents from youth about the dangers of underage drinking or providing alcohol to those under 21.

The three winners are first place, Naomi Green, an eighth grader from Brigantine Middle School; second place, Camila Ramos Reyna, sixth grader from the Jordan Road Middle school; and third place, Maggie Breedlove, an eighth grader from Champion Baptist Academy.

First place winner Naomi Green, an eighth grade student at Brigantine Middle School.

Naomi’s winning submission will be turned into a billboard. Winners were awarded gift cards to local stores for their powerful messages about underage drinking.

Students learned that the younger a person starts drinking, the more likely he or she is to have alcohol problems later in life. A person who starts drinking as a young teen is four times more likely to become an alcoholic than someone who does not drink until age 21. The brain is still forming in teenagers and teen drinking can cause permanent brain damage.

Second place winner Camila Ramos-Reyna, a sixth grade student at Jordan Road Middle School.

If you really want to fit in, stay sober, was the message. Most young people do not drink alcohol. Research shows that more than 70% of youth aged 12 to 20 have not had a drink in the past month. Providing alcohol to those under 21 is illegal and can result in six months in the county jail, up to a $1,000 fine, and a permanent criminal charge on your record if convicted.

By participating in this contest, youth have helped to prevent, reduce and/or delay substance use among youth of Atlantic County in a long term and sustainable manner.”

Third place winner, Maggie Breedlove, and eighth grade student at Champion Baptist Academy.