Updated: 02/12/2014 6:15 PM
Created: 02/12/2014 5:05 PM WNYT.com
By: Mark Mulholland
LAKE GEORGE - At the age of 24, Amanda Mason, is an old pro at talking to kids about drugs and alcohol.
"I started this because I saw the effects of drugs and alcohol on my friends and I saw how everyone sort of ignored it and pushed it under the rug."
Mason has been at this for a decade, says she first became interested as a 14-year-old in Florida, where her high school was nicknamed "The Pharmacy" because so many of her classmates were taking drugs.
That was long before she became Miss New York. The crown has given her a pulpit. And she's happy to use it for a good cause. "We have 2,500 kids abusing prescription drugs for the first time every day. That's what I want to combat. I want to help these kids. And when they know more about it, they're going to make better decisions."
So here she was in Lake George Wednesday morning sharing her passion with 125 students from Warren and Washington counties who are members of their local SADD chapters. Mason told the students how she's managed to avoid the negative influences.
"She's still successful and she's beautiful and she's done all this amazing stuff," said Kayla Sweet, a sophomore from Warrensburg. "So people can see that they can make those decisions and step away from the bad, but they can still be very successful and have a lot of good things come out of it."
Students say it's getting more difficult to avoid the pressures, but keeping the right friends is key.
"Just getting into the right crowd and being with friends that you know won't be trying to get you to make bad choices," said Morgan Yarosh, a 10th grader from North Warren.
Mason's presentation was part of the Hudson Falls-based Council for Prevention's 11th annual SADD conference.