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Dr. Cruz poses with members of the Appalachian Youth to Youth group that meets at Cane River Middle School.

Dr. Miguel Cruz has been an integral part of Appalachian Youth to Youth since the beginning — volunteering weekly at Cane River Middle School for the past two years. When interviewed about his involvement in the program, Dr. Cruz shared the following:

“I became a volunteer because of personal experiences as a youth growing up in Key West during the 60’s-70’s when drugs were very prevalent. I was introduced in middle school and thanks to some caring adults, my path got deterred for the better. I have actually been screaming from my own rooftop about the dangers of prescription drugs for over 30 years and it has fallen on deaf ears until now because it has become a national crisis. I am glad it’s getting the attention it needed all along.

I have seen the kids in Youth to Youth impacted by the information and activities shared. Education begins with awareness and Youth to Youth brings that awareness. The efforts of the Mitchell Yancey Substance Abuse Task Force also helps to bring about that awareness that pain meds and many other drugs are not safe for long-term use and that other approaches are. I would like to see more drug awareness programs as part of the health curriculum in the schools and programs like Youth to Youth to be a mainstay in the school systems. Similar “awareness” programs should be made available to the adult population as well.

Volunteering with Y2Y has been a fun experience for me and I look at it as a way to give back to my community and the youth of our counties.”

Terri Leiser, PATH’s Youth Team Advisor says “Dr. Cruz is SO good with the kids! He gets them laughing, and makes them feel good about themselves.” We are so grateful to have Dr. Cruz as a part of the team!