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State Honoree

Lauren Benson

Arkansas

Lauren Benson, 17, of Benton High School in Benton, Arkansas, developed a drug prevention program after watching a relative and a good friend suffer from years of drug and alcohol abuse. "I decided it was time to stop watching silently," Lauren said. She was convinced that teens needed more than a warning to ‘) just say no" to drugs -she believed that peer support was the key. After accepting the title of Miss Teen of Arkansas for 1997, Lauren kicked off Two by Two, a buddy-check program for teens who promise to be drug- and alcohol-free and support their buddies in the same challenge. In her effort to promote the program, Lauren has written hundreds of letters and spoken at numerous events, including the Governor's Youth Conference on alcohol and drug abuse. The program's success is because it shows teens that they are not alone in their fight against substance abuse while proving to adults that kids can be positive role models. Lauren has taken Two by Two to Arkansas, Texas, Ohio and Mississippi, and hopes to expand it further.