North End Against Drugs (NEAD) in-conjunction with North End Waterfront Health held a Drug Awareness Day at St. John’s School for 5th to 8th grader 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 Martin J. Walsh,St John’s School, and the Eliot School.
There were approximately 100 students along with about 15 teachers, a lot of staff members from the Health Center, members of NEAD Board and volunteers as well as the various speakers including Mary Wright, Doctor 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 North End Athletic Association (NEAA) programs for many years, two Under Cover Drug Officers from the Area A-1 Drug Unit, Representative Aaron Michlewitz, Brendan from the Mayor’s Office of Recovery Services and Mayor Marty Walsh.
A 45 minute play from the Improbable Players – who were sponsored through a grant from the Boston Health Commission.
The Improbable Players did various skits depicting many issues related to alcohol and drug abuse and the associated consequences. “The thing that impressed everyone 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 the city and state, NEAD felt that it was an important time to have another Drug Awareness Day with the older children in neighborhood schools. Having speakers who grew up in the neighborhood are great role models and it was very important to have them participate,” he said.
Each child was also given an NEAD string backpack filled with drug information pamphlets, as well as chap stick and sun screen with the NEAD name and logo on them.
“The theme for the day was that drugs and alcohol can lead making bad choices that can ruin lives. 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,” Romano noted.
Principles of both schools Karen McLaughlin and Traci Walker Griffith helped put this program together as well as the many volunteers who worked behind the scenes.