This month marks the fifth anniversary of RyeACT (Rye Action for Teens and Children). This month is also Suicide Prevention Month and Recovery Month.
The coalition was formed to foster healthy behaviors and reduce youth substance abuse. Nancy Pasquale, who has spearheaded the effort from the start, brought us up to date on the organization’s important prevention work and the ways in which it is expanding its reach.
Having witnessed the impact of the pandemic on the mental health of Rye’s youth, Pasquale is pleased to report that RyeACT is partnering with the Rye Youth Council and the Rye City School District to develop programs focused on helping teens through crises. The coalition is also offering in-service youth mental training to faculty and staff at Rye High School.
Earlier this year, RyeACT conducted another drug-use survey and will be doing a community-wide share this fall, said Pasquale.
“We’re working with the Iona Center on how best to use the data when it comes to our decision-making,” she continued.
While the pandemic put many projects on hold, it didn’t cause any slowdown within the coalition. “Our youth arm, a core group of 15-20 students, has worked tirelessly to spread the word about substance abuse through posters and stickers. In the last year, they’ve gotten a number of student clubs and groups involved, and, this fall, are working with the Rye Boy Scouts on a project.”
When asked about the possibility of allowing the sale of marijuana at a retail shop in Rye, a proposition that is on the City Council’s September 22 meeting agenda, Pasquale commented: “I hope the Council opts out, as have many communities nationwide — notably, nearly 75 percent of Colorado communities have. The public health cost is astronomical, so much higher than any revenue from the sale of this gateway drug.” She added, “Marijuana use derails the launch into life for youth.”
RyeACT continues to work nationally with Bob DuPont, the first Director of the National Institute on Drug Abuse and the second White House Drug Czar. DuPont spoke to a rapt audience at a community forum in the Rye High School Performing Arts Center several years ago. His message is clear: reinforce non-use of drugs and alcohol with teens.
Pasquale is now waiting for funding that will enable RyeACT to continue its important work for another five years.
- Robin Jovanovich