A laptop with a video conference call.

By Laurie Herrick, Preventionist

The Middlesex County Coalition for Healthy Communities held its first meeting of 2022 on January 12. The coalition is looking forward to fostering community change by educating the community and working with our partners during the upcoming year.   

At the meeting, discussions were focused on a few of the key events the coalition is working on in 2022:

Community Survey

 The coalition will be updating and sharing the Community Survey on our website and with our partner organizations. At our events throughout the year, we will distribute the survey and encourage members of the community to complete it so that we can have access to current data around alcohol and other drug trends in our community. 

Young Women’s Conference

We also discussed one of our favorite events of the year, which is the Young Women’s Conference. This year our 18th annual conference will be held in the spring.  It is an opportunity for female students from Middlesex County high schools to have access to education on many trending topics. 

Prevention Summit

Also on the agenda was our Prevention Summit that will take place in June. Beginning discussions were held to identify potential topics and speakers. The coalition also spoke about the PRIDE Survey, which is distributed every 2 years to middle and high school students about school climate and safety, the prevalence of substance misuse, perception of the risk of misusing substances, and other data to help districts zero in on any problem areas and plan for implementing effective programs to affect positive changes. We are hoping to be able to distribute during the 2022-23 school year. 

Task Forces

Last on the agenda was having our Task Forces meet to discuss goals and objectives for the upcoming year. The Marijuana Task Force discussed the different ordinances that the municipalities have in place for medicinal and recreational cannabis sales and distribution.  The task force is planning to work with municipalities and stakeholders to ensure that policies and safeguards are put in place at the forefront. 

The Underage Drinking Task Force was concerned that drinking alcohol may have become more acceptable during the pandemic (curbside pickup, delivery, and Zoom happy hours). One of the initiatives the task force will be focusing their efforts on this year will be addressing risk reduction for college students by creating a toolbox resource kit for college-age students. The Prescription and OTC (over-the-counter) Drugs Task Force will be educating people on how to safely store and dispose of medication. The coalition has free Deterra deactivation bags available for Middlesex County residents, doctor’s offices, and community partners.  Please reach out to Laurie Herrick, laurie.herrick@wcpnj.org for more information. 

The Coalition for Healthy Communities meets on the second Wednesday of every month at 1:00 p.m.  Until further notice, all meetings will be held on Zoom. For more information about how you can get involved, please contact the Coordinator of Coalition and Community Programs, Mara Carlin at Mara.carlin@wcpnj.org

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