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BLUE CROSS PROGRAM TEAMS STEELERS, HOSPITALS TO CHALLENGE SUBSTANCE ABUSE

 BLUE CROSS PROGRAM TEAMS STEELERS, HOSPITALS
 TO CHALLENGE SUBSTANCE ABUSE
 PITTSBURGH, April 27 /PRNewswire/ -- Westmoreland County and Allegheny County hospitals and schools have joined with Blue Cross of Western Pennsylvania to campaign against drug and alcohol abuse among area youths, it was announced today.
 Gary Anderson and John Jackson of the Pittsburgh Steelers and Olympic gold medalist Suzie McConnell Serio, along with hospital representatives, will be conducting the student assemblies. The campaign continues through May.
 Hospitals in Westmoreland County actively involved in the campaign include Citizens General, Westmoreland, Jeannette District Memorial, Frick Community and Latrobe Area. Allegheny Valley and Ohio Valley General Hospital in Allegheny County also are lending their support in this anti-drug effort.
 The assemblies will be held in the following school districts:
 -- Westmoreland County: Southland, April 28; New Kensington, April 29; Ligonier Valley, May 5; Greensburg/Salem, May 6; Jeannette, May 12; Hempfield, May 13; Norwin, May 19; Norwin, May 20; and New Kensington, May 21.
 -- Allegheny County: Sto-Rox, May 11; Highlands, May 11; and Moon Township, May 20.
 Montour, Deer Lakes, Mount Pleasant and Hempfield school districts held their programs earlier this month.
 Because students look to athletes as role models, the spokespersons combine their leadership with the technical expertise of the hospital personnel involved in the project.
 "We try to convince students to do what's best for them. Drugs and alcohol will only keep them from being the best that they can be," said Jackson, Steelers' offensive tackle.
 "Our program's effectiveness will be enhanced by having hospital representatives share what we are trying to communicate to young people," said Anderson, the NFL's all-time most accurate field goal kicker. "What we are trying to do is to convince the students that they do not need drugs and alcohol to be winners."
 Serio tries to convey that anyone can follow the crowd, but it takes real courage to say no when a friend starts to pressure another to try drugs and alcohol. "Mainly, I urge students to take charge of their lives, and to stress that using drugs and alcohol is a one-way ticket to self-destruction," she said.
 According to Blue Cross of Western Pennsylvania community affairs representative Mark Malick: "The program is one of the most effective concepts we have utilized in our tri-county area. Comments from teachers and principals confirm my observation that sports figures are very effective in reaching the students. Our program coordinators felt that the director of a hospital trauma unit or emergency room would help the athletes deliver more effective messages by describing situations where students end up in hospital emergency rooms after a night of drinking or after overdosing on some drug they thought was harmless."
 Blue Cross of Western Pennsylvania established its drug and alcohol education program in 1986. It is offered at no cost to western Pennsylvania schools in 29 counties. Since then, more than 200,000 students in 12 western Pennsylvania counties have heard the positive messages delivered by sports celebrities.
 For more information on the drug and alcohol education program, call 412-255-7687.
 -0- 4/27/92
 /CONTACT: Diane Wuycheck of Blue Cross of Western Pennsylvania, 412-255-7697/ CO: Blue Cross of Western Pennsylvania ST: Pennsylvania IN: HEA SU:


CD-PT -- PG001 -- 2921 04/27/92 08:04 EDT
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Date:Apr 27, 1992
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