Sunday, April 6, 2014

Community-wide effort to focus on local substance use

On Thursday, March 13 a Task Force for Substance Abuse and Use Prevention held its inaugural meeting. Despite the weather, representatives from law enforcement, town governance and services, the school district, and the business community came together for a five hour summit to develop a community focused action plan to address substance use in Windham and Raymond. 
Hosted at Windham High School and facilitated by Liz Blackwell-Moore and Jana Thompson from Opportunity Alliance, the Task Force began the day by reviewing data from the Maine Integrated Health Youth Survey, taken by middle and high school students in February 2013. Using this and anecdotal information, the task force developed a problem statement and identified contributing factors specifically for substance use by teens. 

Like many communities in Maine, Windham and Raymond have seen and heard alarming examples of drug and alcohol abuse. Families, businesses, employers and schools are impacted by the financial, health and social implications of substance abuse. Although many agencies and organizations are individually working very hard to address these issues, the Task Force creates a coordinated, community-wide effort, and hopes to include many others in their efforts. 

On March 25th, a subcommittee began work on developing a clear vision and message before the full Task Force re-convenes in late April. The next step will be to develop action steps to improve the consistency of information, education, resources, and communication to better equip all stakeholders in supporting healthy decision making by teens and adults. 

Current Task Force members include Aimee Senatore from the Lakes Region Chamber of Commerce, Councilman David Nadeau, Brian Ross with Windham Parks and Recreation, Lynn-Eve Davis from Jordan-Small Middle School and Raymond Elementary, Windham Town Manager Tony Plante, Deputy Joe Schnupp and Capt. Craig Smith from the Cumberland County Sheriff’s office, Community Relations Officer Matt Cyr and Sgt. Bill Andrew from Windham Police Department, Eliza Adams from Windham Middle School, RSU #14 Superintendent Sandy Prince, and Matt Perkins, Doug Daigle, Kelli Deveaux and Chris Howell from Windham High School, with other members invited, but unable to attend.

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