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Coalition Working Hard to Curtail Substance Abuse

The Wilmington Substance Abuse Coalition is holding an event on November 28.

The Wilmington Substance Abuse Coalition began coming together earlier this fall. And later this month, the group will hold its largest event to date.

Hoping to curtail drug abuse in town, the coalition is planning its initial steps, including Awareness Night 2012 on November 28 at Wilmington Middle School from 7-9 p.m.

The evening will include a variety of speakers and resources for residents of all ages. In particular, youths 12 years old and above are encouraged to attend with their parents.

“I hope that I can get as many people in the community to come to this as possible,” said Health Director Shelly Newhouse. “I hope we can build upon what we see that night and maybe hold more of these depending on what topics the community sees fit.”

In addition, Newhouse said the group may apply for a federal grant that would be worth $125,000 for five years. Towns like Reading and Danvers have acquired the grant and put it to good use, and Wilmington hopes to do the same.

The coalition has teamed up with Wilmington Public Schools in order to distribute Pride Surveys in health classes. Students in grades 6-12 will take the surveys, focusing on destructive behavior. Based on the results, the coalition will decide the best direction to go.

Members of the Board of Selectmen said after meeting with Newhouse that they are excited to see steps being taken to control what has become a growing concern in Wilmington and across the country.

“I’m thrilled this is coming to fruition,” said selectman Judy O’Connell. “This is something that is not exclusive to Wilmington, and it effects all ages… It’s not an easy topic and some people fear it. Some don’t want to discuss it. It’s unfortunate that we need (the coalition), but the fact we’re addressing it as a community, with your leadership I know it will be successful.”

Anyone interested in volunteering with the group can contact Newhouse at (978) 658-4298. The group also has a Facebook and Twitter page that residents can follow for updated information.

“It’s unfortunate and a little scary to hear some of the reports of what goes on,” said selectman Mike Champoux. “I think we all know that this is an issue.”

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