Inspired by Methuen’s Phil Lahey, students at the Greater Lawrence Tech School have started a Drug Education Task Force. Lahey, a former Methuen Councilor and the main force in the Merrimack Valley to spearhead public discussions and educational forums for families of drug dependent individuals, says he believes having high school kids involved in solving the opioid crisis is critical.
“It all started when I spoke to one of the teachers here at the GLTS, Cheryl Lewis. I spoke to her class and a group of students said they wanted to get involved. After I spoke, six of the students decided they want to start their own task force for prevention and abuse of opioids. So, the best way to start, they said, was at the open house this month for 7th and 8th graders who are coming to check out the school. I’m very excited because I deal with parents and recovering addicts; these kids are tough they are tough to reach but it’s easier with kids reaching out too.”
Dorangely Rojas, a GLTS 12th grade student from Lawrence told The Valley Patriot that she wanted to get involved to make a difference in the community. “The schools weren’t giving us enough information on the dangers of opioids and the opioid epidemic, so I thought it was important to join the task force and have a positive affect on our community,” she said.
Dorangely said that working with Phil Lahey’s task force and starting a drug prevention program for local kids with an after school program will show them the price you pay to be on these kind of drugs and what it does to them as well as their families and their community. Everyone knows someone who has gone through this, so anyone can be affected, it’s very dangerous.”
Carla Barla a GLTS senior from Lawrence said that what made her want to get involved in the task force was to help poor people who are addicted.
“Being part of this makes me feel better about helping people. Together we can help reduce the amount of overdoses and opioid use and abuse.”
Asked how she and her task force was going to do that, she said educating the public was key.
“We are going to go to the Market Basket to educate people and then go to the homeless and talk to those who take drugs. We want to feed them and educate them so that they can get help for themselves and maybe help others.
Carla says that she decided to get involved in the task force because of her personal experience with a family member who is addicted. “I would say I got involved because of my mom. Addiction has had a big impact on me and my family.
So, I figure my personal experience can show that family does matter and it affects the whole entire family. People need to understand that. Mom is addicted. She is getting help and I am helping her with that. But, maybe I can use our experience to help others understand how it affects their families too and we can stop other people from getting addicted to opioids.