A group of concerned community members, parents and students came together at Newton High School on Saturday, Sept. 17 to listen, learn and discuss about the need for change during a Town Hall meeting on underage drinking. Around 55 people were in attendance, and each person brought their individual experience and knowledge to the discussion table. Information was shared with the participants regarding the effects of underage drinking on the adolescent brain, Fetal Alcohol Syndrome, statistics on alcohol-impaired collisions in Newton County and student-reported statistics on current underage drinking trends in Newton County (from the Georgia DOE’s “Georgia Student Health Survey 2.0”). They were also presented with information regarding social hosting and the need for local social hosting ordinances, which was a main focus of the event.
Keynote speaker, Jeremy Anderson, shared his personal story of overcoming obstacles and encouraged those in attendance to live their purpose in life. He discussed the importance of teaching students the dangers of drinking underage, as well as the dangers of other substance abuse. Jeremy also spoke on the importance of parents and adults enforcing healthy boundaries in their homes, including making the commitment to not take part in social hosting.
Throughout the event, participants were given opportunities to discuss the information shared and develop ideas/plans for future endeavors related to reducing underage drinking. Tickets were given for participation in each activity, which were added to an overall box to be drawn for prizes. Three students were the recipients of prizes from the drawing. Aaron Gibbs won a $25 gift card, sponsored by the Newton-Rockdale Suicide Prevention Coalition, Daniella Coffee won an inspirational book, sponsored by keynote speaker Jeremy Anderson, and Isyss Shanklin won the grand prize: a $100 gift card, sponsored by the Newton County Drug Free Coalition.
This town hall event was planned and sponsored by members of the Newton County Drug Free Coalition, which meets monthly to plan and develop ways to work together toward the prevention of underage drinking and on other initiatives. Agencies involved in the Newton County DFC include: Newton County Community Partnership, HEARTS for Families, Newton County Schools, Project AWARE, Emory Center for Maternal Substance Abuse and Child Development, View Point Health, Newton-Rockdale Suicide Prevention Coalition, GNR Health Department, Georgia Piedmont Technical College, Newton County Juvenile Court, More Than Conquerors, Inc., Department of Juvenile Justice, Entirely Ready, Inc., Covington Elks, Celebrate Recovery, Salvation Army, Newton County Sheriff’s Office, Prevent Child Abuse Rockdale, Newton County DFCS and Newton County Recreation Department. These organizations and community volunteers provide programs and services that support a healthy, sober lifestyle for Newton County residents.
On behalf of the Newton County Drug Free Coalition, community members are encouraged to work toward a healthier Newton County. Meetings are held on the first Wednesday of every month, at noon, at the Turner Lake Recreation Center. For more information, please contact the DFC Chairman, Mollie Melvin, at 678.392.2475 or molliem@HEARTSforFamilies.org.
HEARTS for Families is a non-profit organization based in GA. As part of our work in underage drinking prevention, there is a representative who serves Newton County. If you would like more information about the Alcohol Prevention Project and how you can get involved, please contact Mollie Melvin at molliem@HEARTSforFamilies.org.