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New Lead Deputy Richard Garrett and Josh Myers, 14 exchange ideas about a safer park and getting drugs out of the hands of school kids.
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Lisa Walter is standing at right.
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About 25 attended the Thursday, April 22 McCASA meeting. The group is open to all who wish to attend. It meets the third Thursday of the month. Call 245-4303 for more information about McCASA programs.
By Patric Hedlund
On Saturday May 8, 10 a.m.- 2 p.m., unused and expired medications can be turned in at Frazier Park Market through the ‘Take Back the Meds’ program.
‘Pharming Parties’ featuring bowls filled with prescription drugs being passed around like M&M candies are not just a scene in a Quentin Tarantino Pulp Fiction movie anymore.
‘Pharming’ is part of the real life—and the real risk of death— experienced today by youth in the Mountain Communities, according to Lisa Walter who was the first director of the Mountain Communities Boys & Girls Club.
Walter is now working on a “Take Back the Meds” program here, with new Kern County Sheriff’s Lead Deputy Richard Garrett. They want to help people get their family’s unused and expired prescription medications out of their homes and turned in to a place where the drugs can be disposed of safely.
Those forgotten little bottles stashed in the back corner of drawers and medicine cabinets have become a threat to children, Walter warns, when taken as recreational drugs without heed to their dangers.
In the last four years, alcohol and prescription drug overdoses have resulted in ambulances at our local high school, in kids being taken from parties close to death and in loss of the lives of youths who grew up here.
Easy access to alcohol and drugs is a threat that underage students and teachers know about, but few talk about it in public. As a parent herself, Walter cares deeply about this issue. A member of her family almost died two years ago after being given alcohol at the high school.
“We need to be able to start working together to make change happen,” Walter said, “Parents are in denial, but their children’s health and lives can be at risk.”
“Denial—we need to get over that,” Deputy Garrett said. “People may not know about it, but it is happening. We have to get the medications off the street.” He said that his goal is to educate all ages, and that the elderly need to know that their old medications should be turned in to a safe place rather than leaving them around the house.
Today Walter works with Anne Weber of the Mountain Communities Family Resource Center. After trying for three years, a Drug Free Communities grant was won by the Mountain Communities Coalition Against Substance Abuse (McCASA). The coalition of local individuals and businesses was granted $600,000 over five years to help create a safer environment for local children.
A primary goal is to help change the culture surrounding acceptance of alcohol and substance abuse among youth as “fun” and “normal.”
“These are behaviors that put youth at risk,” said Weber.
About 25 community members, including four law enforcement agencies, two youths, parents, business people and professionals were represented at a McCASA meeting April 22 to coordinate the medication “take back” program. “Unmonitored medication can end up in our children’s hands,” McCASA coordinators emphasized as they passed out posters and flyers to place around the Mountain Communities to encourage participation in the “medication take back” project.
Josh Myers, 14 of El Tejon School attended the meeting. He said he would prefer if there was no drinking at the Frazier Mountain Skate Park, and if it was less visible at festivals because “it would make it better, cause kids won’t be fighting or tempted to drink, and I can go chill out without worrying,” he said.
This is part of the April 30, 2010 online edition of The Mountain Enterprise.
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