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Town Hall Meeting

Hosted by: Town of Wakefield

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How does underage drinking and substance misuse affect your community?

Wakefield youth have higher rates of alcohol use than the state Massachusetts as a whole, and alcohol use among our youth is reinforced by social norms. In 2017, Wakefield lost two teenagers in a car accident following a post-prom celebration. This tragedy woke many up to the realities of underage drinking in Wakefield.

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How did a Communities Talk event help you address those issues?

  • Engagement with local government leaders and business owners to consider policy changes such as social hosting laws or restaurant worker trainings
  • Educated youth and parents
  • Built community cohesiveness and support for our efforts
  • Created an opportunity to share resources and practices with other community stakeholders
  • Raised awareness of substance abuse and/or underage drinking issues in our community
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Which Communities Talk resources (or other SAMHSA resources) were most helpful for your activity?

  • Communities Talk website
  • Communities Talk planning guides
  • Communities Talk toolkits
  • Communities Talk e-Alerts
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How did your event make an impact on underage drinking in your community?

We held a screening of Chris Herren’s The First Day, a substance use prevention education film, followed by a discussion panel with Wakefield mental health and recovery professionals. More than 200 students, parents, and community members attended and provided positive feedback. The discussions around the realities of youth substance use, mental health, and addiction were powerful and impactful.

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What other challenge(s) did you face in planning your activity this year?

  • We were not sure if people would come
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How did you overcome these challenges?

The key to our event’s success was collaboration. Our coalition worked with our partners at the high school’s athletics and performing arts departments. They helped get the word out and encouraged students and parents to attend.

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What are your next steps?

  • Host follow-up meetings or activities
  • Expand our coalition with new partnerships in the community

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