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8/31/2015 - Keeping Kids Safe with Prevention in Hamilton

 

Keeping Kids Safe with Prevention in Hamilton

  

In the above photograph, standing from left to right is Chief James W. Collins, Hamilton Township Mayor Kelly Yaede, Deborah Minnick, the Hamilton Alliance Against Substance Abuse Coordinator, Hamilton Township L.E.A.D. Police Officers Kristin Seitz and Sal Figueroa as they recognize HAASA and the Police Division’s efforts against substance abuse on International Overdose Awareness Day. 

 

On the heels of International Overdose Awareness Day (August 31) as kids prepare to return to school, Hamilton Township’s efforts to keep kids safe through substance abuse prevention and education efforts is ready for the start of another school year.

Again, armed with an active Hamilton Alliance Against Substance Abuse (HAASA) municipal commission and a proactive Police L.E.A.D. (Law Enforcement Against Drugs), Hamilton continues its mission of keeping kids safe by promoting healthy lifestyles.

“Our children are our most precious asset; and that is why beginning as early as first grade, our Municipal Government works along with our schools to help keep our children safe by promoting healthy lifestyles,” explains Hamilton Township Mayor Kelly Yaede.

 

ü  HAASA’s Efforts in Schools

HAASA has served as the official Township coordinating body for the planning, awareness and education of substance abuse prevention efforts on Alcohol, Tobacco and Other Drugs (ATOD’s) since 1991.  Using a State grant for alcohol prevention measures, some of HAASA’s programs include:

o   Elementary (School) Prevention Services – to help empower children with life skills to resist the threats of alcohol and tobacco use, this program partners with CampFire New Jersey to reach elementary school students

o   Willow Tree Middle School Prevention Clubs - to educate a core group of students to then pass information along to their classmates regarding the dangers of underage drinking.

o   Alcohol Awareness/Fatal Vision – which is designed to motivate young people to avoid using alcohol, to teach skills to resist social influences to drink and to educate students about the dangers of alcohol abuse  

o   Safe Prom/Graduation Campaign – focusing on the negative consequences that can occur with underage drinking, binge drinking, and drunk driving, as well as to reduce the number of alcohol related fatalities during prom and graduation time

But HAASA’s scope does not end with alcohol prevention, as its efforts extend to preventative education regarding nicotine, illicit drugs and prescription drugs.  

Starting with nicotine education in the first grade, presenters use puppets to connect with the young students to convey the message of avoiding tobacco use.  Additionally, every 7th grade student in the school district receives education regarding illicit drugs, which includes heroin and “Molly” (MDMA), with a special emphasis on prescription drug abuse. 

Further, HAASA’s efforts also include a trained “ALATEEN” group sponsor who presents to middle and high school students about how alcoholism and substance abuse negatively affects families.  Information and tools are given to the students to help address this issue.


ü  Partnering with Parents

Although their efforts work to keep kids safe, HAASA also looks to team with parents to help prevent substance abuse.  Through the “Parents Who Host Lose the Most” program, parents are provided with tools to educate their peers about the legal, health & safety issues associated with allowing anyone under the age of 21 to consume alcohol at parent hosted parties. 

“Prevention is a collaborative effort that is strengthened with community and parental involvement; and that is why we focus on partnering with parents to help prevent substance abuse in our children, as well as with other community agencies,” says Deborah Minnick, HAASA Coordinator.

 

ü  New HAASA Website

To help promote its efforts and prevention information, HAASA’s new website www.HamiltonNJ.com/HAASA   

One feature on the new website is a “Hotlines and Links for Help” section that provide phone numbers, websites and even social media links to several governmental programs and non-profit organizations that can help individuals suffering from alcohol, drug and substance abuse, as well as issues dealing with food and eating disorders and other crisis issues – some with a particular focus on youth.

“I think this is a great part of our new website, which will provide helpful resources for anyone suffering from substance abuse issues,” says Mayor Kelly Yaede.    

 

ü  “L.E.A.D.”-ing the way

The mission of L.E.A.D. (Law Enforcement Against Drugs) is to provide resources and educational programs to communities and organizations supporting law enforcement initiatives and services.  Through its "Too Good For Drugs" curriculum, the program seeks to prevent cigarette smoking, alcohol consumption and marijuana use among middle school students and to reduce risk factors related to alcohol, tobacco and other drug (ATOD) use, which includes inhalants and street drugs including heroin and “Molly” (MDMA).

In Hamilton, L.E.A.D. officers use this curriculum for 6th graders in the township’s public and private schools to help promote healthy lifestyles for the community’s children.  

“Our L.E.A.D. officers are committed to educating our community’s middle school students about health lifestyles and avoiding the temptations of alcohol, tobacco and other drugs,” says Hamilton Township Chief of Police, James W. Collins.

 

ü  Coming “Project Medicine Drop” Collection Box

While Hamilton has participated in several prescription drug collection day initiatives in collaboration for the federal Drug Enforcement Administration and the state Attorney General’s Office, the Hamilton Township Police Division is working to obtain and install a permanent prescription drug collection box through the State of New Jersey Division of Consumer Affairs’ “Project Medicine Drop” program.  This will allow members of the community, particularly adults and seniors, a convenient way to properly dispose of unwanted prescription medication to help prevent prescription drug abuse.