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Upcoming Events

Community Forum:
Learn the Facts & Get the tools
To talk to youth about drugs and alcohol
Wednesday, April 29th 6pm-8pm
Charlesview Community Center
Task Force Meeting
Thursday, May 14th 2:30-4pm
Brighton Branch Library
40 Academy Hill Road
Parking in rear of building
7:00 – 8:30 p.m.
Spalding Hospital
1575 Cambridge St.
Cambridge, 3rd Floor Chapel
AREAS Meetings
AREAS is a free recovery-based curriculum in a group discussion format. Topics include employment, housing and relapse prevention, among many others. For more information, please contact Helen Connolly 617-789-2967 or helen.connolly@steward.org
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Allston-Brighton Youth Coalition Tackles Opiate Abuse Epidemic with Peer-to-Peer Workshops
March 23, 2015

Allston-Brighton youth are reaching out to peers throughout the community to raise awareness of and provide strategies to prevent prescription drug abuse, often the starting point for opiate addiction, a widespread issue nationwide. While the Allston-Brighton Substance Abuse Force’s (ABSATF) Youth Coalition has worked on similar issues for years, this is the first time the group has created workshops that give them direct access to youth in the community. 

The ABSATF Youth Coalition recently led their fifth community workshop on prescription drug prevention for Allston-Brighton youth. Over the past few months, the Youth Coalition has presented the interactive, 45-minute workshop they created at three different sites, including the Charlesview Residences, Faneuil Gardens, and most recently at the Road to the Right Track, a youth program led by the Boston Police Department D-14 that combines track workouts with health and wellness discussions while providing civic engagement opportunities with the police department.

"By creating and leading the workshop, our Youth Coalition members serve as credible resources and role models to their peers—making the content even more accessible to the youth participants," said Elizabeth Parsons, ABSATF community coordinator.

In these workshops, ABSATF Youth Coalition members discuss the definition and statistics of prescription drug abuse and talk about ways to prevent it. The Youth Coalition begins by presenting photos of people potentially addicted to prescription drugs in an effort to break down stereotypes of what a person with a substance use disorder looks like. By breaking down myths and imparting facts, the Youth Coalition helps their younger peers to understand that addiction is a disease.  The Youth Coalition has found that the small group workshops help participants to feel comfortable which fosters authentic conversations.

The Youth Coalition created the prescription drug prevention workshop which is aimed mainly at middle school aged students. The Boston Public Health Commission provided content training as well as a Partnership for Success grant to support the workshop.  Health Resources in Action helped the Youth Coalition learn facilitation and public speaking techniques as well as strategies to help them create the workshop. The result is an interactive workshop session that engages the young audience with visuals, questions and a game. An evaluation is done near the end of the workshop to gauge participants’ knowledge after the presentation. The Youth Coalition has found that after the workshop, participants understand the definition of prescription drug misuse and can identify what can happen when prescription drugs are misused.

"Leading the prescription drug workshops and spreading awareness of this issue to peers is important to me," said Julia, a Youth Coalition member. "My goal is to empower other youth so they can understand what's going on around them, make healthy decisions and know there is support if they need it."

The Youth Coalition is creating additional workshops for this spring that will focus on preventing marijuana use while encouraging principles of the Above the Influence national campaign, including stress management and peer support.  The Youth Coalition is seeking additional community partners to host these workshops. Please contact Elizabeth Parsons at abyouthcoalition@gmail.com or 617-789-2140. Pizza is supplied as an incentive for attendees.

About the ABSATF Youth Coalition
The ABSATF Youth Coalition (YC) is made up of high school students who either live in or go to school in Allston-Brighton. Their mission is to work together to make the Allston-Brighton community healthier for youth by serving as role models and educating other young people about substance use and abuse prevention. Funding for YC activities is provided in part by the Community Benefits Program of St. Elizabeth’s Medical Center. To follow the Youth Coalition on Twitter and Instagram, go to @abyouth.

The Allston-Brighton Substance Abuse Task Force is a coalition of community agencies and residents that mobilizes youth, families, community members and leaders to prevent and reduce substance abuse among youth and adults in our community. The Task Force has made significant strides over the years, becoming a recognized leader and community resource for tackling important issues such as underage drinking and prescription drug abuse. For more information visit www.abdrugfree.org.

Youth Coalition Works to Ban Alcohol Ads on City Property
January 12, 2015

The Youth Coalition has worked ardently to gather support for a ban on alcohol advertising on City of Boston property. Trained in media advocacy, media literacy and photo voice, the Youth Coalition documented alcohol ads in the City in July 2013 and then completed a photo voice project, combining photography with narratives, to demonstrate the ads’ effects on youth. To date they have gathered 250 individual signatures and the support of more than 30 community organizations on their petition. They recently met with a liaison to Mayor Martin Walsh and an aide to City Councilor Mark Ciommo. The next step is to meet with members of the Mayor’s Cabinet. Read the petition here.

ABSATF Shares Strategies with City Connects
December 16, 2014

Helen Connolly, ABSATF program director, and Liz Parsons, ABSATF community coordinator, were panelists earlier this month at a forum discussing prevention strategies and programming for 40 City Connects coordinators who work with students in K-8 in the Boston Public Schools and Catholic schools in Boston. City Connects coordinators link students with health and wellness services. The forum gave them the opportunity to learn about ABSATF, substance abuse concerns in the community, and successful programs and strategies that City Connects coordinators can utilize.

ABSATF Youth Coalition Works toward Alcohol Ad Ban on City Property

The Allston-Brighton Substance Abuse Task Force (ABSATF) Youth Coalition is building awareness of the effects of alcohol advertising on youth and working to gain support for a ban on alcohol advertising on City of Boston property. The ban would include bus shelters, trash/recycling bins and street furniture, among other city property.

The Youth Coalition is advocating for a ban of alcohol advertisements on city property because advertising placement in youth-dominated areas negatively affects the health of youth by increasing underage drinking. Consider these facts:

  • Research shows that greater exposure to alcohol advertising is associated with increased drinking in underage youths. One study showed, “each additional advertisement seen [above the monthly average of 22.7] increased the number of drinks consumed"1
  • The cost of underage drinking in Massachusetts was approximately 1.4 billion dollars in 20102
  • There are inordinately high rates of outdoor alcohol advertising in neighborhoods of color. Consequently, youth of color are exposed to images of alcohol and alcohol-related behaviors in their communities on a daily basis from.3
The ABSATF Youth Coalition is made up of high school students who either live or go to school in Allston-Brighton. The coalition was part of a group that raised awareness of alcohol ads effects on teens, thus leading to a ban of alcohol advertising on MBTA property in 2012.

Help the Youth Coalition by signing the petition to ban alcohol advertisements on City of Boston property. Please email a signed copy of the letter to Liz Parsons at elizabeth.parsons@steward.org or send a hard copy of the signed letter to Liz Parsons, ABSATF Youth Coalition, 77 Warren Street, Building 1, Brighton, MA, 02135.

1. L.B. Snyder, F.F. Milici, M. Slater, H. Sun, and Y. Strizhakova, “Effects of Alcohol Advertising Exposure on Drinking Among Youth,” Archives of Pediatrics and Adolescent Medicine 160 (2006): 18-24.
2. Pacific Institute for Research and Evaluation. Underage drinking in Massachusetts: the facts. Available at: http://www.udetc.org/factsheets/MA.pdf. Accessed July 22, 2014.
3. Alaniz M. Alcohol availability and targeted advertising in racial/ethnic communities. Alcohol Health Res World.1998;22:286-289.

Ado Jean (seated), Haley Grygiel (left) and Schuyler Grygiel (right), work to get community members in Brighton Center to sign their petition to Mayor Walsh to ban alcohol advertisements on city property.

ABSATF, Community Celebrate 11th Annual Walk for Recovery
Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Participants at the 11th Annual Walk for Recovery enjoyed a beautiful sunny morning at Herter-Artesani Park in Brighton. Before setting off on the 5K course along the Charles River, more than 200 participants from the greater Boston area chatted with friends, met with local legislators, and listened to inspiring stories of recovery from several recovery homes, including Granada House, Hope House, and Gavin House.

After thanking ABSATF for hosting the Walk and acknowledging that we were one of the first neighborhoods to do so, guest speaker Boston Mayor Martin Walsh spoke passionately about the importance of recovery services in the city, especially in the wake of the current prescription drug abuse crisis, and the need to remove stigma around addiction and recovery. Mayor Walsh also thanked the Allston-Brighton Youth Coalition for ongoing efforts to ban alcohol advertising on City of Boston property, an initiative that he supports. Other guest speakers included Will Luzier, executive director, Interagency Council on Substance Abuse and Prevention and Maryanne Frangules, executive director, Massachusetts Organization for Addiction Recovery.

ABSATF would like to thank all 2014 Walk for Recovery sponsors. As the Task Force’s federal grant money has come to an end, ABSATF now relies on private and corporate donations to continue the progress it has made since 2008 in the area of substance abuse prevention.

2014 Walk for Recovery sponsors:

  • Boston College
  • Brighton Marine Health Center
  • Addiction Treatment Center of New England
  • Granada House
  • Boston Police Athletic League
  • Suffolk County Sheriff Steve Tompkins
  • State Representative Michael J. Moran
  • St. Elizabeth's Medical Center
  • Peoples Federal Savings Bank
  • Gavin Foundation
  • Massachusetts Organization for Addiction Recovery
  • Joseph M. Smith Community Health Center
  • The Brian J. Honan Charitable Fund
  • Mt. Washington Bank, a Division of East Boston Savings Bank
  • Mark Ciommo, Allston-Brighton District City Councilor
  • Prime Realty Group
  • Houghton Chemical
Walk for Recovery in-kind donors:
  • 3 Scoops Ice Cream
  • Abbott's
  • Bangkok Bistro
  • Centre Salon
  • Mandy and Joe’s Deli
  • Newton Emblem Club
  • Oak Square Dunkin Donuts
  • Oak Square YMCA
  • Sam's Alterations
  • Starbucks
  • Stockyard Restaurant
  • Stone Hearth Pizza
  • Treats on Washington

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