Yes to what really matters

CORE Society helps youth say No to drugs and Yes to what really matters

by Lisa Gruenloh

Director, Communications and Program Development

Barron Collier High School Senior Leah Trombley (center) spoke to a gathering of community leaders Nov. 1 about the value of CORE Society and the importance of their drug prevention efforts. Pictured with Leah at Drug Free Collier’s “Leaders Breakfast” is Leah’s mother, Kristina, and DFC CEO Guy Blanchette.

Drug Free Collier’s CORE Society is a club for youth who make a commitment to stay away from drugs and alcohol and encourage their peers to do the same.

The club has a rich history of student advocacy. Members create and implement school-wide awareness campaigns aimed at making good choices and serve as powerful role models in their schools.

CORE also has created an environment for young people to surround themselves with others who choose a drug-free life and be accepted for who they are.

Debbie Dosen, a teacher at Pine Ridge Middle School, has served as CORE advisor there for the last five years.

“CORE Society provides a safe place for students to hang out together without the pressures they might face elsewhere,” Ms. Dosen said. “Here they can get honest answers to their questions. At this age they are all trying to find their identity. They want to know what direction to go and can get off track so easily. CORE students support each other to stay connected with their values and goals and feel a strong sense of belonging.”

In addition to advocating for a healthy lifestyle, CORE members participate in community service activities together and social events that demonstrate that they don’t have to use drugs or alcohol to have a good time.

A focus on peer connection deepens students’ friendships and support network.

This year, Drug Free Collier added an additional component to the program – life skills that address the underlying causes of substance abuse among youth.

Our staff, along with Coalition partners at the David Lawrence Center, Collier County Sheriff’s Office, Florida Community Bank, and others, give students the knowledge and practical tools to make healthy decisions and facilitate peer dialogue around the real issues students face.

Topics such as resisting peer pressure, managing emotions, developing social skills and healthy assertiveness, understanding influences, moving through conflict effectively and identifying their purpose, values and goals help students make empowered decisions.

These life skills provide foundation for saying no to harmful substances and activities and, equally important, inspire them to stay focused on all they want to say yes to in life.

“I was first offered drugs when I was 13 years old and had no idea how to respond,” said Leah Trombley, a senior at Barron Collier High School where she is President of CORE Society. “I feel that if I had CORE Society when I was in middle school, I would have been able to manage a lot of the challenges I ended up facing in both middle and high school. My goal now is to support my peers in making good choices and to help create a positive, healthy environment at my school.”

CORE Society’s mission and activities relate to four key pillars: C – Character, O – Outlook, R – Responsibility, and E – Excellence.

Living with character means understanding your personal values and living in alignment with them. CORE members understand that we show people who we are by how we treat ourselves and others through our thoughts, words and actions.

A young person’s outlook about themselves, their life and their future is key to making healthy decisions.

CORE gives students tools to develop a positive self-image and maintain optimism and resilience as they move through life’s challenges.

We describe responsibility as taking ownership of our personal well-being and our impact on others. While it can feel as if they don’t have much control over their lives, young people make critical decisions each and every day that can significantly impact their lives now and into the future.

Achieving personal well-being and success by committing to be your best – that’s how we define excellence. It’s been said that we are what we repeatedly do, therefore, excellence is not a one-time act, but a habit that requires thoughtful and consistent discipline.

CORE members recognize that making healthy decisions, becoming a person of integrity and achieving personal success and fulfillment doesn’t happen by accident – they are the result of the decisions we make and actions we take, both big and small, every day.

We are so proud of our CORE members who embrace these principles and are willing to support their peers and their school in such powerful ways!

To learn more about CORE Society or how you can support the program, contact Drug Free Collier at or 239.302.6717.

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