Did you know that there are a lot of great activities available for youth in Olean? Please check out these Fall/Winter Schedules at the Olean Rec Center! Also, to learn more about the Olean Rec please read the article about them in the September issue of the HCC newsletter!
The Gowanda Central School District, like many schools and communities across the nation, is engaged in a constant effort to keep their students healthy, safe and free of the abuse of alcohol and other drugs. Surveys have shown that kids who stay drug-free do it due to parental disapproval as the main reason they abstain. Unfortunately, too few kids report having had meaningful discussions with their parents about alcohol and other drugs.
To educate parents about the growing concerns of students using and experimenting with drugs and alcohol, Gowanda’s strategy is to require that one parent or guardian attend the District’s Drug & Alcohol Parent Forum. In coordination with the Village of Gowanda Police Department, the Cattaraugus County Sheriff's Department and Kids Escaping Drugs, the Drug & Alcohol Parent Forum is a 90 minute program that addresses recognition of drugs and drug paraphernalia, signs and symptoms of abuse, health risks associated with abuse and the liability as a parent for hosting and/or purchasing alcohol and other drugs.
Attendance is mandatory for parents/guardians of students entering grade 5 and grade 9, as well as for parents/guardians of students new or re-enrolling to Gowanda Middle School and Gowanda High School. Parents must attend the forum to allow their child to participate in any Middle School/High School special events. Once this requirement is met, it is valid for the remainder of the child’s career in each school.
The event was very informational. It was apparent to parents/guardians how important it is to talk to their kids about abstaining from participating in extracurricular activities involving alcohol and drugs. After speaking with several parents after the event, some of the feedback was regarding how they wished the presentation went into further discussion on the gummies. Parents were shocked by how similar they looked to actual candy and that really concerned them. Some parents even thought it would be beneficial for parents of elementary school kids to attend.
Overall, it was a great event with positive feedback. I look forward to seeing the effects of it in the coming years.
By: Brittney Olszewski
Healthy Community Alliance
Summer is here! Soon there will be graduation parties, outdoor get-togethers, swimming, camping and so much more! With that in mind, HCC just wants to say that this is a great opportunity for some positive family fun. This is also a good time to speak to your children about the dangers of alcohol and substance use. Sometimes it can be difficult to know what to say or how to start the conversation. The website www.talkitover.org provides a number of resources and conversation starters to help parents and caregivers with talking to their children of all ages. You can search by topic such as alcohol, marijuana, vaping, mental health and much more. The content is also organized by age to provide information on age-appropriate conversations. For example, when having conversations with younger children, look for teachable moments to casually talk about things that they may have seen or heard such as on a TV program. Keeping communication open with your children is an important protective factor in helping them to stay healthy and make good choices!
Looking for something fun to do with your family over the summer? Check out the Greater Olean Chamber of Commerce Events and Community pages Greater Olean Area Chamber of Commerce | Olean, NY (oleanny.com)!
By Tara Estright
HCC Community Coalition Coordinator
This month we would like to provide information on the dangers of marijuana on the undeveloped brain. Now that adult-use marijuana has been legalized in the State of New York there will be many more discussions and educational material circulating in the upcoming months. Please click here for the article "The Effects of Marijuana on the Teenage Brain." to find out more information.
By: Liz Threehouse
Idea Girl Company
One of the biggest decisions by New York State lawmakers recently has been to decriminalize marijuana and legalize adult use. For the municipalities that have decided to opt-in there will be “future” legal cannabis dispensaries sprinkled throughout our county. While we might be seeing evidence of these dispensaries popping up now, the New York State Office of Cannabis Management (OCM) has issued a statement that these locations throughout the state are not acting within the law. In fact, there have been a few locations that have already been issued warning letters by the OCM (2WGRZ, Feb. 9, 2022). While New York State continues to develop details surrounding the Marijuana Regulations and Taxation Act, it is important to understand that no licenses have been issued yet for dispensaries to operate within the limits of the law. In fact, it is likely that it will be another 12-18 months before such licenses will be distributed.
Why is the important to Healthy Cattaraugus County: drug free coalition?
First, it is important to point out that these illegal pop-up dispensaries are not being regulated. That means that there is no control over the safety of these products that are often being “gifted” through a purchase of another item such as a sticker, shirt, or even a snack. This puts our youth then at a greater risk for obtaining marijuana. The law is very clear, the sale of or providing cannabis to anyone under 21 is illegal and anyone who does, is subject to repercussions under the law. The brain is not fully developed until about age 25 and marijuana use in adolescence has been known to adversely impact cognitive development and mental health in youth (Knopf, 2018).
In states where adult-use has been legalized it has also been found that products such as edibles have been difficult to regulate and often the packaging contains inaccurate information regarding THC content and dosage (Knopf, 2018). As some states have experienced an increase in youth overdosing on these edibles, it led to imposing strict regulations in order to help reduce the appeal to this population (Knopf, 2018). We also know that over the past several years vaping has been on the rise among youth (Knopf, 2018). In fact, in a recent survey of the Cattaraugus County Prevention Needs Assessment (2019) there was a 7.9% overall increase in the number of students in grades 6-12 who reported using an e-cigarette, vape, e-hookah, etc. in the Past 30-Days. As this chart shows, every grade saw a significant increase in use.
Past research has shown the popularity of vapes among teens and that it is more likely they will use the devices for cannabis as compared to adults (Knopf, 2018). One survey was conducted among 2,630 Facebook users between the ages of 14 to 18 who admitted cannabis use (Knopf, 2018). The study found that youth were more likely to vape or consume cannabis edibles the longer dispensaries were available in their area (Knopf, 2018). In Cattaraugus County, youth have reported that their average age of onset for use of marijuana is 14 years old (Prevention Needs Assessment, 2019). This is important information to consider as the laws are continuing to be developed surrounding the Marijuana Regulation and Taxation Act in terms of outlet density (how many dispensaries are allowed within a certain area and restrictions on location (such as a specified amount of feet away from schools, playgrounds etc.). Packaging of products that do not appeal to children (such as those that look like popular candies) and restrictions on advertising are all important factors that must be considered in the future to help protect local youth.
Bach Harrison, Cattaraugus County Prevention Needs Assessment Survey (2019)
Knopf, A. (2018). Teen cannabis vaping and edible use increased in high-density dispensary states. The Brown University Child and
and Adolescent Behavior Letter, 34(12), 3-4. https://doi.org/10.1002/cbl.30342
It’s a New Year, are you ready to help make a difference in the health and safety of our local youth? If so, WE NEED YOUR HELP! HCC would like to invite you to become a volunteer member! As our coalition continues to grow we look for volunteers from all sectors of the community to join us in our mission to reduce youth substance use in Cattaraugus County. We know that it takes an entire community to prevent underage alcohol and substance use. While parents are the biggest influence and protective factor for youth not to use substances, positive peer relationships, an engaging and rewarding school environment, and a community that recognizes and rewards youth are also important. If you are interested in learning more about Healthy Cattaraugus County: a drug free coalition please contact Tara Estright, Community Coalition Coordinator email@example.com for more information..
Three years ago I left work at 6 p.m. in my radiant yellow Dodge Neon with a fin on the back and 5 on the floor. Picking up speed on the state road of 394 it had been dark for a good hour following the Fall time change. Shifting into 5th gear and reaching the speed limit of 55mph I came to a dead stop as I plowed into a manure tanker with no lights or marking farmers triangle. Both airbags deployed, peeling back the passenger side half of the car I broke my right hand, cracked 3 ribs and suffered a pretty significant head injury – not to mention the loss of my lovely yellow hotrod. For the next several months I couldn’t bring myself to drive and I hated traveling that section of 394. I know, most of you already recognize the onset of Trauma – a point at which the brain floods the body with Cortisol and Adrenaline causing an eventual toxic stress response. Now while we can acknowledge the trauma of an accident or know of PTSD from those who have served our country or gone to war in some capacity, do we know about Trauma from the past? Specifically the trauma that comes from Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACE’s)? Ryan North, a national trauma expert says “Our brains are wired for connection, but trauma rewires them for connection. That is why healthy relationships are difficult for wounded people.”
Since 1990 there had been a public health movement toward understanding ACEs and the toxic stress responses that show up in young adult and adulthood as health issues and/or social problems. The research is astounding about the connection between traumatic experiences as a child and how the mind may have locked it away, but the body keeps score and remembers. We know that those who have experienced trauma in early childhood are the ones most prone to experiment and eventually find smoking, drugs or alcohol as a means of reducing that stress or anxiety their body feels as a teenager or young adult. There have been many campaigns over the years that create an awareness of the disease and social problems related to alcohol and substance abuse. But did you ever wonder WHY? Perhaps it’s time for us to look at (and it sounds crazy to say) but what if alcohol and substance abuse is actually a “solution” to the trauma experienced as a child?
Might that explain why knowing about the health risks from those behaviors isn’t enough to cause people to quit? I do think it’s time for us as a county and a nation to relook at how people cope with such trauma, and if we can raise the level of compassion for people we might be able to hear ourselves say maybe it’s less about what’s wrong with that person and in fact ask ourselves a different question, “I wonder what happened to them?” If we choose to make that shift, I believe it can offer a more trauma informed approach with care and concern for our fellow human beings and realize that we all have stories. My story isn’t better or worse than yours it’s just different. And when we choose to address the trauma from our childhoods, maybe then we can actually build resilience rather than just cope – we can learn to thrive rather than just survive?
AL Meyers (NEAR science Certified National Trainer)
You’d think growing up in a small town called Friendship would have some form of safe places, security in relationships, and fond memories of loving the land. But as many already know, growing up in a rather small to medium town or city doesn’t shelter one from the reality of dysfunction, abuse and addictions. In fact, when there is a place where everyone knows your business and you get pegged and labeled at an early age the odds are stacked against you to have positive life outcomes where intellectual, emotional, relational and maybe even the spiritual is up and to the right? What I have discovered in counties and towns like this, is the propensity to create an image, put on a façade, and keep up with the Jones’ all the while resisting any type of vulnerability or transparency! The funny thing is those prior motivations for “keeping up appearances” actually have a way of repelling others, while the characteristics of transparency actually draws us towards one another. For the last couple years I have had the privilege of traveling (and zooming 😊) with many people regarding the topic of the Commercial Sexual Exploitation of Children (CSEC). What you say?!? That doesn’t happen in our county! I can tell you that it most certainly does, especially with the onslaught of various Apps and social media outlets that have surfaced over the last few years.
Think about it, online predators are willing to take their time in grooming young, impressionable, and innocent boys and girls (tweenagers and teenagers alike!). Young people who want nothing more than to “get outta this one horse town” with a desire to move upward and onward to bigger and better things. With things like poverty, tension with parents, looking for value and affirmation and acceptance from anyone anywhere – why wouldn’t those from a small town be a great target? As we continue to travel and talk about the coercion, force and fraud of human trafficking I wonder – ARE YOU AWARE OF THE POTENTIAL WOLVES IN YOUR LIFE? Exploitation often happens from those we know, that are already in the sphere of our relational influence. While force is certainly a tactic used in domesticating young persons, there is an incredible rise in coercicn and frauding some as young as 7 or 8 years old who get introduced into “The Life.” For many of us who care about our youth and the substances they abuse as a way to medicate or escape from the pain and hurt they have experienced, we must take a more active role in becoming more Aware and knowledgeable about this underbelly of our county. Perhaps taking more steps to be Trauma Informed, and then also learn how to support Survivors of such a crime. Together we are better as we learn to build resiliency in our communities. Isn’t it time to set aside the created image, deconstruct the façade, and desist with the comparison trap? I hope and pray that you are with me in this!
Al Meyers (I am Little Red/CSEC facilitator through CCA)
The Oxford dictionary defines peer pressure as influence from members of one's peer group. This influence can lead us to positive behaviors, like eating well, pushing just a little harder during a workout, or making responsible financial decisions. However, more often than not, peer pressure is discussed in the context of pressure to make poor decisions. Even as an adult, I still find myself occasionally trying to fend off the persuasive efforts of friends. More surprisingly, the things that I find my peers pressuring me into are no different than when I was younger. At get-togethers, it can look like, "Here, have another drink!" or "Try this. You'll love the way it makes you feel." It doesn't even have to be exclusively about substance use either. Peer pressure can be applied intentionally or inadvertently to just about any behavior.
I find it helpful to make sure that I have a plan ready to combat peer pressure if I find myself in the hot seat. My favorite method is to have an excuse ready (one rooted in the truth to make sure my reason is believable and easy for me to share), though there are many different ways to deflect. Your reason could also be as absurd and silly as you want. "Sorry, I can't get high with you. I have to fly my dragon on the way home." When someone you're close with is the one trying to manipulate your actions, have an honest conversation about how that makes you feel. Make sure that the people you spend time with are like-minded people who share your values, as this alone will significantly reduce the likelihood of being exposed to peer pressure in the first place. Another great option is to turn the pressure around on them, perhaps with a bit of a guilt trip attached, like "If you were a genuine friend, you wouldn't ask me to do that." If all else fails, Nancy Regan's Just Say No campaign from the '80s is still a great option.
It's worth noting that even the best thought-out plans may not be entirely effective in preventing or deflecting peer pressure. Stick with the idea you're the most comfortable with, and have a second in your back pocket, just in case. Stay true to yourself and your goals.
By Amanda Hulbert
It's summer - people are firing up the poolside grill, soaking up the sun and heading out to the beaches, lakes, and rivers.
Summer brings countless water activities including boating, jet skiing, swimming...and sometimes drinking alcohol.
Whether we like to admit it or not, many people make drinking a part of these activities, and are unaware of the increased risks. Even one drink can make a difference. Alcohol doesn't follow the normal digestive route; instead it is directly absorbed into the blood stream, altering brain chemistry. This causes impairment in judgment, reaction time, balance, and vision. These critical skills are required for safety in any water activity. After consuming just one standard alcoholic drink--12 ounces of beer, 4 to 5 ounces of wine, or 1 1/2 ounces of liquor--your risks of injury or death increase dramatically. Exposure to noise, vibration, sun, glare and wind can intensify the risks.
Boating or operating any water vessel requires coordination, concentration and attention to detail, just like driving a motor vehicle. In New York, it's illegal to operate a watercraft under the influence of alcohol in public waters.
According to the U.S. Coast Guard, "Alcohol is a major factor in approximately 23 percent of all recreational boating fatalities nationwide." In 2019, 100 deaths occurred in boating accidents that directly involved alcohol. Boat operators are not the only ones at increased risk when alcohol is involved, also consider their passengers.
About two-thirds of annual drowning victims never intended to go into the water. The Centers for Disease Control estimates 3,153 injuries are associated with swimming. Diving is a risky activity itself and mixing it with alcohol is a dangerous combination. Diving accidents result in 5,000 deaths and 8,000 paralyzing spinal cord injuries annually.
During the Critical Days of Summer, it's very important to keep safety in mind. Following these safety tips can reduce the risks of injuries or death:
Reference: Staff Sgt. Cecillia Cardenas, 81st Medical Operations Squadron, Mississippi, U.S. Coast Guard, CDC
By: Liz Threehouse
Idea Girl Company and HCC Social Media & Marketing
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