Ruth Clay, MPH Health Director, addressed Stoneham’s interest in applying for a federal Drug Free Community grants for substance abuse prevention.
Clay told the Board of Selectmen that more of the state grants are coming down on a regional level, not town by town. “Stoneham is part of a regional coalition with Medford, Melrose, Malden, Wakefield, Reading, where we meet once a month,” Clay said. “Stoneham is already part of a couple regional grants: The Emergency Preparedness Grant and the regional tobacco grant. Those towns are also part of the opiate control program. You are not alone in addressing substance abuse.”
Clay said that enough research has been conducted to see which programs and which don’t. Stoneham’s prevention coalition is a functioning body that deviates from the traditional method designed to affect the individuals, peers or families. Information was taught classes in schools, and research showed little results.
Coalitions are structured with members of the youth, parents, the business community, media, schools, youth service organizations, law enforcement, religious organizations, civic volunteers, healthcare pros, government agencies with experience, other organizations are a part of comprehensive multi-strategy approaches for the entire community from the bottom up.
Citing the smoking in restaurants ban, Clay implored the Board to consider changing consequences and legislation change. “There are lots of stories in community,” Clay said. “But you can get info from police, EMT, hallmark health, school departments, Board of Health for a Youth Risk Data Survey. This provides real numbers.”
A town cannot apply for a DFC grant without having a coalition in place for 12 months. The town would have to raise money to fund these meetings, but Clay stressed the importance of achieving eligibility. “Kids today are getting Oxycotin and opiates from their grandparents medicine cabinets. Businesses don’t want to be selling parafanilia or alcohol to children. Parents need to talk to their kids and educate them along with our teachers and mentors in town.”