Congratulations to our DARE graduates and parents. The combined efforts at home with the support of the Youth Guidance Council, the Borough, our Police Department and our school administration makes a powerful statement to our children. I commend everyone involved.
Yet we still need to do more.
According to 2016 data, an estimated 3,200 young people per day between the ages of 12 and 17 used drugs for the first time in the preceding year. Research also indicates that high school seniors are more likely to smoke marijuana than cigarettes. We hear and read daily reports of the opioid epidemic in our country. Furthermore, 16% of high school seniors in 2016 reported binge drinking (i.e., 5 or more drinks in a row) in the past two weeks.
A few months ago, Upper Saddle River and Allendale announced that the White House Drug Policy Office awarded a Drug Free Community Mentoring (DFC-M) grant in the amount of $150,000,($75,000 in 2017 and $75,000 in 2018) to their newly formed coalition, the Upper Saddle River/Allendale Municipal Alliance (USRA Municipal Alliance). Only two other towns in the United States were awarded the Mentoring grant in 2017, one in Florida and the other in New Mexico. At the completion of the two years, the Alliance will be eligible to apply for a Drug Free Community (DFC) grant in the amount of $125,000 annually for five years, or a total of $625,000. At the completion of the five years, an additional five year grant is possible in order to continue the programming.
The initial mentoring grant has given us an opportunity to provide our communities with programming and educational materials that would otherwise not be possible. The Coalition is doing everything possible to work towards being awarded the five year grant.
Local problems need local solutions. The USRA Coalition has representatives from the USR Youth Guidance Council, our Borough physician, a local business, the SRV Lions Club, the K-8 schools, law enforcement, Boards of Health, the County, the high school, religious leaders, the media, parents and a high school student member. By uniting the community, as we are today, we demonstrate a strong commitment to our youth.
The partnership between Upper Saddle River and Allendale is a true win since we share our high school and student/parent community. The intent is to make programming we provide at the regional level through the funds to be inclusive of Ho-Ho-Kus and Saddle River students. We share sports teams, dance programs and social activities with these towns long before high school begins.
In order to successfully complete our mentee grant, and be in good standing to apply for the next and larger grant, we need to demonstrate that we have accomplished our initial goal of launching and promoting our new coalition. For this, we need the community’s help. We will be launching an on-line survey which will be sent to parents and the community at large through our email contact list. It will be a 5 minute survey and will be looking for input as to concerns. The results of the survey will guide the USRA Coalition in the programming and resources that will be provided later this year. I ask you to watch for the e-mail and take the 5 minutes to fill it out online.
We have a website, www.usracoalition.org and are also on FB at USRA Coalition and on Twitter. Please like, share, follow and retweet us.
We are currently working with Hackensack Hospital, the Youth Guidance Council and the Board of Health, to have a physicians’ panel in to speak to our communities. The topic will focus on how to discuss the use of prescription drugs with your physician before having treatment for both adults and teens. We will announce more information as soon as the date and details are set. I strongly encourage everyone to attend these events and show your children your concern and support.
After the survey results are tallied, we will be able to share more information on our next steps. I urge you to be proactive and get involved. Thank you and congratulations to everyone again.