In order to combat youth drug and alcohol use, the Massapequa Takes Action Coalition (MTAC) hosted a town hall meeting, titled “Massapequa Talks: Why Here? Our Kids Have Spoken. Are We Listening?” The event was held June 17 at Massapequa Park Village Hall.
For the past five years, the coalition has focused much of its efforts on young adults age 19-25, but with the help of its new “drug- free communities” grant, it is now also able to concentrate on middle and high school aged children and teens.
“Kids are starting to use these substances younger and younger,” said Cathy Samuels, Coalition Coordinator. “In Massapequa, the average age is below 15, whether it’s alcohol or other drugs. We know from research that kids who misuse below that age are five times more likely to have a substance abuse problem later in life and by focusing on our youth we’re hoping to prevent them from starting.”
Maria Guzzett, the parent of a teenaged daughter attended the program to learn how to take better preventive measures to ensure her daughter does not become one of those statistics.
“I have a daughter who is in 7th grade and so far, she’s doing good, but I want to be proactive,” she said. “It’s good to be educated and have knowledge on things like this.”
Indeed, one way the program sought to reduce these tragic numbers is through education.
“The more people we can get the message out to, and the more resources we have available to go to, the closer we are to bringing it to a head and the better off everybody is,” said Susan Martin, MTAC Steering Committee member.
Additionally, MTAC partners with organizations like the National Guard and the Nassau County Police Department to help fight the crisis.
The National Guard works with MTAC in that they perform “community scans” in which its officers visit places in the community where young people are known to congregate to look for drug and alcohol paraphernalia. They then report their findings back to MTAC, which gives the Coalition an opportunity to address these issues and concerns.
Seventh Precinct Inspector Mark J. Vitelli said, “At the Nassau County Police department, we use a data-driven approach. We look to see where the overdoses are occurring and that’s where the resources will go. If there’s an overdose, the victim is investigated and interviewed, and then we go after the dealers.”
All those who attended the program received a swag bag, which includes educational literature about drugs and alcohol, home disposal kits, and information about the Coalition and its programs.
The Massapequa Takes Action Coalition is a non-profit organization whose mission is to prevent and reduce high-risk behaviors in the Massapequas. Since 1997, it has been collaborating with Massapequa Public Schools, parents, residents, law enforcement, and government agencies to enhance these efforts. Their programs include those like this one, prescription drug take-back days, and public education seminars, to name a few.
The Coalition’s next general meeting will be held Wednesday, July 10 at 7 p.m. at the Massapequa Public Library’s Central Avenue location. Those interested in learning more about the coalition may visit their website at www.mtacoalition.com or connect with them on Facebook at www.facebook.com/massapequatakesaction.