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Ennis Daily News

Impact Ennis addresses local drug problem

The initial meeting of the board for Impact Ennis, the city’s first drug prevention coalition, took place Thursday at Ennis Regional Medical Center.
Coordinator Jane Mize, former marketing director for the facility, said she gathered a group of community representatives to address educational and legal issues concerning the local rise of juvenile alcohol and drug abuse.
“I’m so excited about getting our group up and running,” Mize told the 12 members of Impact Ennis, an initiative of the state-funded Drug Prevention Resources, Inc (DPRI). “When I’m passionate about something, I don’t let up, and with all of you, I know we can accomplish a lot.”
Joining Mize in jumpstarting the Ennis affiliate were Roderick Howard, vice president of prevention programs for DPRI, Alison Watros, program director for the Greater Dallas Council on Alcohol and Drug Abuse, and Alvis Reese, coordinator for Impact Corsicana.
Howard said DPRI, as the oldest prevention agency in the state (founded in 1934), fosters a “holistic approach, appealing to all communities, and reaching kids where they are.” He added the group does not subscribe to the traditional definition of “high risk” youth.
“All kids are at risk,” he said. “In the past, kids at high risk were determined by where they lived, their ethnic background, but we no longer use the term.”
Reese pointed out that although teens are the ultimate focus for DPRI programs, the education of adults is paramount.
“Much of our work is geared to reaching out to adults,” he said. “Letting them know of the legal ramifications of providing alcohol to minors, such as holding drinking parties for underage school children, especially at prom and graduation.”
Mayor Russell Thomas, one of Impact Ennis’ appointees, spoke on behalf of fellow coalition members, welcoming the presenters and thanking Mize for coordinating the installation of a local branch of DPRI.
Thomas also shared his family’s personal experience in dealing with the issue of substance abuse.
“As a father of a daughter in recovery, I know it’s important that we have all the tools we can to fight drug and alcohol abuse,” the mayor said. “Anna may have had an easier time if we had had a group like this here before. Our society is too permissive of the use of alcohol and drugs, so I applaud the efforts here today.”
Reese, Watros and Howard took questions from board members.
Ennis ISD Superintendent Dr. Eddie Dunn asked for more particulars on how the district might aid Impact Ennis.
Reese replied a social norming exercise called “Actuality” was one example of programs to be geared to high school students that would deal primarily with the problem of peer pressure. He added that “Actuality” is a drug education-themed entertainment, incorporating dramatic skits, singing and dancing.
At the close of the meeting, Howard stressed the vital need for community drug prevention efforts like Impact Ennis.
“Coalitions are the most effective way of challenging youth substance abuse,” he said, explaining that DPRI “is geared toward long term effects as far as policy, such as putting in place ordinances and other laws that can have a far reaching impact.”
Watros agreed.
“I believe in the power of coalitions,” she said. “I have seen them in action all around the state.”
The presenters confirmed Impact Ennis is not a fund-raising agency but solely an educational outreach. According to Mize, four subcommittees will be appointed in the future to oversee education, law enforcement, policy and merchant issues related to alcohol and tobacco consumption by minors.
Impact Ennis’ coalition board is made up of the following citizens: Mayor Russell Thomas, City Manager Steve Howerton, Ennis Regional Medical Center CEO Dave Anderson, EISD Superintendent Dr. Eddie Dunn, Chief of Police John Erisman, ERMC chaplain and president of the Ennis Ministerial Alliance Rev. Darrell Nelson, Ennis NOW editor Kelly Kovar, Ennis Arts Commission member Randy Bigham, representing Carey Bryan of the Boys & Girls Club of Ennis Korey McGrady, Paul Neal, Nancy Clark, Rita Solomon and Courtney Harris.
Impact Ennis’ next meeting will be in January.
For more information contact Jane Mize, Impact Ennis coordinator, by phone at 214-399-0815 or by e-mail at jmize@dprl.com.

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Posted by on Nov 26 2008. Filed under News. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. Both comments and pings are currently closed.

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