2008-09-11 / Letters to the Editor

Many programs for island teens to enjoy

Teenagers are at great risk of becoming addicted to drugs and alcohol, but a local group is doing everything it can to keep them safe. The Jamestown Substance Abuse Prevention ask Force is a group of concerned community members who take political action to better our youth and sponsor prevention events in our community.

One of the main accomplishments of the task force is bringing Stephanie Nocon into the Lawn Avenue School. Ms. Nocon is the Student Assistance Counselor, who works one-on-one and with groups, and runs substance abuse prevention programs. These programs include Red Ribbon Week, an anti-smoking campaign run sponsored by the American Lung Association and Project Northland, an alcohol prevention curriculum. There is also Towards No Tobacco Use, a tobacco prevention curriculum. She helps the students of Jamestown navigate the hard years of middle school.

The task force was involved in the creation of the Teen Center. The Teen Center provides a safe, nurturing and fun environment for the teens of Jamestown. Boredom is a huge contributor to substance abuse, and with Melissa, and now Debbie, holding events, that is almost never an issue. Because of activities such as Skate Fest and Six Flags, teens have constructive things to do.

The task force has been able to take political action, with the help of Representative Bruce Long. After Laura Hosley informed us of the dangers of energy drinks (Red Bull, Rockstar, etc.), several teens brought this issue to Rep. Long, who attends many of the task force meetings. Rep. Long said he would introduce a bill for us, banning these drinks on school property, and he did.

Jessica Bucklin and I had a once in a lifetime opportunity to testify at the State House about something very passionate to us. Because of this unique connection, we have been able to take these and other ideas to the next level. The task force has done great things in our town, and will continue to work hard to keep our youth and community safe.

For more information about the work of the task force, contact Laura Hosley at lhosley@rieas.com.

Mariel Mastrostefano

Jamestown

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