Wellness Coalition forum focuses on children and substance abuse

By Lisa Stone - ReminderNews
Windsor Locks - posted Tue., Nov. 19, 2013

The Windsor Locks Wellness Coalition recently reached out to the community with information that could help families talk to their children about the subject of substance abuse. Windsor Locks Middle School was the venue for an interactive “Talk… They Hear You” forum on Nov. 6.

Members of the Coalition include Director of Addiction Prevention Sandra Jones, Youth Services Director Sarah Maffiolini, WLHS social worker Jeanne Russo, youth leaders Meghan Flaherty and Kelly Hernandez, Chief of Police Eric Osanitsch and Sgt.
Sebastian Garofalo.

“Parent involvement is key,” said Osanitsch. “Parents worry about being the kids’ friends. They have enough friends. They need parental guidance. The children will look for advice on what to do in difficult situations. Parents need to be armed with the proper dialogue. We believe this is the key to helping our children stay away from substance abuse.”

Windsor Locks Superintendent of Schools Wayne Sweeney said, “This Coalition is a great partnership. We need to be proactive with our children. Even though there were only 10 folks here tonight, they will, in turn, bring the information to their friends and family, and those people will then spread the knowledge to others as well. I am confident that the word will get out. We just need to help one kid at a time.”

The theme last year was, “You can make a difference,” according to Coalition supporter Charlotte Wigget. “The idea last year was that the parent needs to show that they are wanting to be a part of their child’s life. This year, the theme is, ‘Talk… They Hear You.’ Some parents feel that their words don’t mean anything to their children, but the kids really are listening. I have a fifth-grader and an eighth-grader. I know that I need to show my support to them, that is why I chose to be very active in their schools. The forum tonight gave me information that will allow me to open up a dialogue with my children and address the substance abuse issue. I am very glad that I came here tonight.”

The repeated statement of the evening was that drugs and drinking can affect anyone. “People seem to think that their child would never do drugs or drink because they know better,” said Garofalo. “Everyone is susceptible. It only takes one kid to bring something to a gathering like a party and pass it around. Peer pressure can be very strong. A child doesn’t have to do the drug more than once for it to have a bad outcome, sometimes even death.”

A video was shown to the audience that drove that statement home. “A parent can never be too involved or concerned with their child’s well being,” said Osanitsch. “I have never had to become involved in a situation where the mother and father checked on the child too much. Just because Bobby said he was going to Billy’s house, and Billy said that he was going to Bobby’s house, that doesn’t make it true. I recommend that the parents make a phone call to verify where their child is, or even show up. That is never a bad idea.”

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