North End Against Drugs in conjunction with North End Waterfront Health held a Drug Awareness Day at St. John’s School for 5th to 8th graders for students at both St John and Eliot Schools. The program was an incredible partnership between NEAD, NEW Health, Boston Police, Suffolk County D.A’s Office, Suffolk County Probation, Mayor Walsh, St. John’s School and the Eliot School.
There were approximately 100 students along with about 15 teachers, a bunch of staff members from the Health Center, members of NEAD Board and Volunteers as well as the various speakers including Mary Wright, Dr. Turnock, Area A-1 Boston Officer Teddy Boyle, Steven Siciliano (Suffolk County Probation – Head Probation Officer South Boston District Court) – who grew up in the North End and worked at the Nazzaro Center when he was in school, Assistant District Attorney Greg Henning Suffolk County District Attorney’s Office – who grew up in Beacon Hill and played baseball in the NEAA programs for many years, 2 undercover Drug Officers from the Area A-1 Drug Unit, Rep. Aaron Michlewitz, Brendan from the Mayor’s Office of Recovery Services and Mayor Marty Walsh.
We also had a 45 minute play from the Improbable Players – who were sponsored through a grant from the Boston Health Commission. The Improbable Players did a fabulous job. Their various skits depicting many issues related to alcohol and drug abuse and the associated consequences was fabulous.
“The thing that impressed me the most was the interaction of the kids with the speakers, especially the actors from the Improbable Players and the Mayor,” stated NEAD President John Romano. “With all the news of opioid problems and overdoses in our city and state, we felt that it was an important time to have another Drug Awareness Day with the older children in our neighborhood schools. Having speakers who grew up in our neighborhoods are great role models, was very important to have them participate.”
Each child was also given an NEAD string backpack filled with drug information pamphlets, as well as chapstick and sun screen with the NEAD name and logo on them.
The theme for the day was that drugs and alcohol can cause you to make bad choices that can ruin your life and your family. Each speaker enforced that everyone that was part of the program that day was there to offer help to anyone who needs it. They provided information, gave examples both good and bad and urged the students to stay away from the dangers of drugs and alcohol. Most importantly, the speakers encouraged students to work hard to accomplish their dreams and don’t let drugs and alcohol stop you from achieving your dreams.
A special thanks to the principles of both schools Karen McLaughlin and Traci Walker Griffith who helped us pull this together and also, all the volunteers who helped behind the scenes and during the day. We are already planning for next year’s event to be bigger and better.