SEPTEMBER 25, 2014
Miranda Nagle, Program Supervisor for the Putnam PRIDE coalition recently presented to key stakeholders in the Griswold community, including the First Selectman, Borough Warden, School Administrators, State Police, DCF, lawyers, Uncas Health District, and others, on how to begin a drug free community coalition. The Norwich Bulletin covered the presentation.
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GRISWOLD — Griswold First Selectman Kevin Skulczyck’s first step was acknowledging his town has a drug problem; now he is working to build a coalition of residents to address substance abuse issues across all facets of the community.
Skulczyck said drug abuse is a widespread issue across the state and country, “but it’s our community I’m worried about.”
The burgeoning initiative he’s advocating is called Griswold PRIDE, a spinoff of the successful Partnership to Reduce the Influence of Drugs for Everyone, which started eight years ago in Putnam.
Miranda Nagle, the program coordinator with Putnam PRIDE coalition member organization Community Health Resources, said the program has a record of success. She cited a 15 percent drop between 2010 and 2012 in the number of middle school students reporting drug or alcohol use within the past 30 days, and a 4 percent decrease among high school freshmen.
Putnam has also disposed of more than a ton of prescription drugs through its “take-back” events and a prescription drug lock box at the Putnam Police Department, according to Nagle.
The PRIDE model brings together representatives from twelve specific sectors of the community to come up with targeted initiatives based on homegrown data and the needs it reveals.
Those sectors include youth, parents, businesses, law enforcement, religious groups and organizations whose goal is to reduce substance abuse.
Nagle said the first and most important step in establishing Griswold PRIDE is to secure representatives in each sector; another key component is grant funding.
Putnam’s program is supported by federal grants through the Drug Free Communities Support Program and Sober Truth on Preventing Underage Drinking, as well as state grants and community donations.
Skulczyck said the extremely competitive nature of the federal grant process won’t deter him from establishing Griswold PRIDE.
“Get the grant or not, we’re going to build that coalition,” he said.
A meeting of potential stakeholders was held Tuesday at Griswold Middle School. Presenters included Skulczyck, Nagle, Putnam PRIDE program coordinator Romeo Blackmar and Town Hall intern Isabel Poole.
Poole, a junior at Griswold High School, said student involvement is an important part of the organizational process.
“They’re the ones that are affected the most, because it’s their school. It’s their education. If you have drugs coming in to mess that up, then you’re not going to learn as much, and you’re not going to be as better off in the future,” she said.
Connecticut State Police Lt. Michael Thomas, commanding officer of the Montville barracks, said the state police will support PRIDE in what he said was the only town in his jurisdiction to take on a drug prevention program of this magnitude.
Southeastern Regional Action Council executive director Michele Devine, who oversees the substance abuse and addiction organization, said support from different agencies has always been there for such initiatives, but it is widespread community investment that’s been lacking.
Teresa Butler, an investigator with the state Department of Children and Families stationed in Griswold, said the level of substance abuse she sees on a daily basis is outrageous — and growing.
And while the incidence is not uncommon these days, she said the strong relationship between town officials, school officials and local law enforcement in Griswold is unique.
“You’ve certainly got that basis already,” she said. “It’ll make it that much easier” to cut down on drug abuse. Read more: http://www.norwichbulletin.com/article/20140924/News/140929712#ixzz3EM87SaW2