Encompass coalition receives drug-free community support grant


Encompass coalition receives drug-free community support grantNORTHBOROUGH – The Encompass Coalition has received a Drug-Free Communities Support Program grant.

Encompass will receive $125,000 a year for five years from the federal government.

“That money is mostly going to be used for paying for a full-time substance use prevention coordinator who will be focused singularly on helping to reduce alcohol use and nicotine use among youth in Northborough and Southborough schools and the community at large,” Health Director Kristin Black said during the Sept. 18 Select Board meeting.

Encompass was recently rebranded and was formerly known as the Northborough Southborough Substance Abuse Prevention Coalition.

The coalition is led by staff from Northborough and Southborough Youth and Family Services, health departments and the schools. The coalition also includes community members from 12 sectors, including law enforcement, youth and parents, among others.

“Our goal … is really we’re trying to support our teens,” Black said. “A lot of our teens think everybody is using, and they think this is common place.”

Encompass plans to achieve its goals through implementing the SAMSHA “Talk They Hear You” campaign, which teaches youths drug refusal skills while also working to create policies that reduce alcohol and nicotine availability and use.

“We really want to empower parents on how do you talk to your kids about use of drugs and alcohol, and how can we support you at home, how can we support our teachers in the schools and really come together as a community that’s really fostering health and wellness and try to find them paths to really avoid drugs and alcohol until that brain fully formed at 25 and they can make really thoughtful decisions at that point,” Black said.

The financial host of the coalition is the town of Northborough, which in turn would be responsible for administering the grant and hiring the coordinator.

“We really want this person in the schools, supporting the schools and helping them with substance use prevention education for our youth,” Black said.

Black noted that Northborough also had received opioid settlement funds. The coordinator could also help advise the Select Board and schools on how they could effectively use the funds to supplement the grant funds, she said.

For more information, visit https://www.town.northborough.ma.us/health-department/pages/encompass.

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