About Our Coalition
The South Hadley Drug & Alcohol Task Force was established in 2005 following the tragic heroin overdose death of a High School student. Various individuals including school personnel, parents and community members, felt that there was a need to organize and take action to prevent underage substance use in town. This group comprised many concerned individuals, some who had a child in the South Hadley school system, and many who did not. From the beginning there were business owners, clergy, town residents, professionals, people in recovery, law enforcement, educators, and civic leaders, all committed to helping young people and their families do the best possible job to ensure that today's children will become tomorrow's responsible adults.
In 2012 The Task Force transformed into a Coalition utilizing the 12-sector representation model advised by the federal coalition guidelines. In 2013 we were awarded a substantial Drug-Free Communities federal grant anticipated to last 10 years which now funds an increase in the ability of this group to assess community needs and impact the culture of our town.
The South Hadley Drug & Alcohol Prevention Coalition meets on the second Wednesday of the month at 6:30 PM in the library of South Hadley High School, and new members are welcome at any time. The South Hadley Drug & Alcohol Coalition is still an on-going group of concerned South Hadley employees or residents who seek to work collaboratively on the prevention of drug and alcohol use by our adolescents. We invite you to join us or to attend a meeting at any time to observe. Get on our mailing list on the “Contact Us” page.
About Our Logo
During the Spring of 2012, the South Hadley Drug & Alcohol Task Force sponsored the creation of a mural at the Beachgrounds Park. Our member Heather Warner from the SPIFFY group at the Collaborative for Educational Services in Northampton, was able to get a grant for an "Above the Influence" substance use prevention campaign using students from the High School Peer Leaders and the town Youth Commission.
The variety of “Tag It” activities became a part of the design of the mural which was drawn by artist Heather Berlin with the input of the students. The negative influences found representation in the circles on the lower right side of the design, like bubbles in mud the student is stuck in. But a friend can pull you out of negative influences.
Once designed, the creation of the mural was opened to anyone who wanted to help.
The "community painting day" in May drew participation from members of the community, young and old alike, and the "Rise Above" mural now stands on the town Recreation Department shed as a reminder that we in South Hadley want our young people to stay above the influence of drugs & alcohol and to feel the support of the community to rise above this. The mural is now the logo of the Coalition. And the block party held that summer to dedicate the mural became the foundation of FallsFest.
About Our Strategies
The Prevention Needs Assessment of youth risk behaviors administered every 2 years to the 8th, 10th and 12th grade students provides the data for our problem statements that our youth are using alcohol and marijuana. A review of our local conditions reveals that youth can too easily access these substances and that the cultural norms in our town are too permissive. These local conditions were reviewed and substantiated through youth focus groups and one-to-one key informant interviews with adults conducted in the Spring of 2014.
Strategies were then identified on a preliminary basis and the input of the full Coalition was brought to the task of choosing our approach at the Strategic Planning Retreat in November 2014. Hours of creative thinking, discussion and planning went into the formulation of our strategies with opinions offered by educators, administrators, law enforcement, town officials, parents, professionals and the youth themselves.
Our strategies are based on local conditions and targeted to the risk behaviors of the youth in South Hadley. We intend to reduce the use of alcohol among 12th grade students from 53% in 2013 to 48% by 2018 and to reduce the use of marijuana by the 12th graders from 31% in 2013 to 20% in 2018. We are also measuring rates of tobacco use and are working with the HOPE Coalition to address the Massachusetts opiate crisis.