To educate families on how to keep community youth drug and alcohol free, a new coalition in Will County has been formed and is hosting a parent and youth forum Sept. 5 beginning at 4 p.m. in the Joliet West High School auditorium at 401 N. Larkin Ave. in Joliet.
The group, known as the Will County Substance Abuse Prevention Coalition (WCSAPC), will present an event with an all-star lineup, moderated by Will County Sheriff Mike Kelley, to create a space for discussion regarding the dangers of alcohol and drugs.
“We’re just trying to find something that will get kids out, and if you can get the kids out, you can get their parents out,” said Cherry Powell, program coordinator for WCSAPC.
The forum aims to engage the public by increasing awareness for resources available to youth who are struggling.
Powell said the effort to reach community youth has worsened over the years.
“One of the major problems that’s on the rise is opioid use,” Powell said. “The kids are taking these pills, and then once they get addicted to the pills, you can’t get them anymore. What’s the next best thing? Heroin, that’s been a sure-shot.”
Powell stressed that the best way to prevent substance abuse is for families to reach youth before they choose to start using and said there are other resources if they have already begun experimenting.
“It’s important the public knows that resources are available to help in making them aware [and] making them astute to what is out there for help if they are experiencing some problems with their kids, and then learning how to combat it,” she said.
The discussion, Powell, said is hoped to help families in learning strategies that work.
“Not to say that [parents] are doing anything wrong, but here are some examples of some things that have helped [and] some things that were good,” she said. “It’s nothing wrong with repeating [what works for other parents] and them mimicking that.”
Powell wants to see a good turnout at the parent and youth forum.
She said if parents are there, “that means they’re interested in saving their kids.”
Speakers will include Robert Covington, Philadelphia 76ers; Roger Powell Jr., associate head coach at Vanderbilt University; Evan Turner, Portland Trailblazers; Cameron Payne and Michael Carter-Williams, Chicago Bulls; James Glasgow, Will County State’s Attorney; Dianna Feeney, director of clinical services at Treatment Alternatives for Safe Communities; and Pastor Jolinda Wade, New Creation Binding & Losing Ministries Church and mother of Dwayne Wade.
The event is free to the public, and will feature a question and answer session.