The RyeACT (Action for Children and Teens) Coalition has organized a community forum of great import. On May 9 from 7-9:30 p.m. at Rye High School, all are invited to a presentation on substance abuse. The three-part program begins with the results of the 2016 student survey data on drug and alcohol use, followed by a talk by Dr. Robert DuPont, a leader in substance abuse prevention, and lastly, a “Parenting for Prevention 101” workshop. After the presentations, there will be breakout groups according to age.

The week after the forum is National Prevention Week, and RyeACT co-founders Julie Killian and Nancy Pasquale, timed this event with that in mind. “We have a commitment from every one of the Coalition’s 12 sectors to do something that week,” they said in a recent conversation. The following week another Drug Take Back Day has been scheduled (over 45 pounds of drugs were collected at the last one in December).

In the year since Rye ACT held its first packed town hall, members have set up action teams at local schools (one at Rye High is working on initiatives; teachers did a group read of “Sober” with one of the authors on campus and the other via Skype). They work closely with Rye Public Safety Commissioner Michael Corcoran, “who’s all over this issue and out in the community.” Killian, Rye’s Deputy Mayor, commended the Rye Police Department, which wanted to help from the start, and now has eight officers who’ve “adopted” a school. Pasquale, a School Board member, gives Interim Schools Superintendent Brian Monahan credit for “taking a deep dive on the Health curriculum.”

The two-year-old coalition received a five-year Federal grant that requires them to have in-kind matches — folks who volunteer time and resources, institutions like the Rye Free Reading Room and Rye Recreation that offer free meeting space.

After Pasquale and Killian heard Dr. DuPont speak at a national conference in Washington, D.C., they knew he was the expert they wanted to bring to Rye for the May 9 forum. DuPont was the first director of the National Institute on Drug Abuse and the second White House drug czar.

Killian and Pasquale just finished reading the latest marijuana study. “The perception is that it’s a low-risk drug, but the one message we hope to get across at the forum is that marijuana, cigarettes, and alcohol are the bigger threats.”

— Robin Jovanovich