WILLIAMSON – The Strong Through Our Plan (STOP) Coalition hosted a meeting with various organizations, Wednesday Sept. 9, at the Southern West Virginia Community and Technical College (SWVCTC) Williamson campus to discuss ways to partner for success to better promote a healthy lifestyle in the area.
Representatives were present from varying health, wellness, awareness and educational organizations in the area. The first topic discussed was a Town Hall/Community Café meeting that STOP has scheduled for Monday, Sept. 28 at the Williamson Fire Department at 6 p.m.
Joshua Murphy, Assistant Director of STOP, explained that he wants the Town Hall meeting to be a structured dialogue session that focuses on goals, identifying steps and identifying people who can help achieve goals. “I want people to agree to help with ways to reach these goals,” Murphy said
The next topic discussed was the National Prescription Drug Take Back Day, scheduled for Saturday, Sept. 26. The event will occur between the hours of 10 a.m. and 2 p.m. at the Williamson Police Department.
A school wide initiative called “Backpack Blessings,” was the next agenda item to be discussed. According to the website, www.backpackblessings.org, “the Backpack Blessings program provides chronically hungry children with food to take home over the weekend. Backpacks are stocked with nutritious, child friendly and easy-to-prepare food.”
Jeff Reynolds with the Mingo County Board of Education (BOE) explained that a $25 donation can feed a child for a month. “It is a phenomenal program,” Reynolds said.
Murphy said, “If you are looking for something to donate to, this program impacts Mingo County children directly.”
Currently, the focus for the backpack blessings program is to make the program available in more schools throughout the county.
Reynolds also discussed plans for Red Ribbon week, which is scheduled for Oct. 23 through Oct. 31.
“We are doing it different this year, with the focus being from a county perspective instead of individual school activities,” Reynolds said.
Red ribbons will be provided to students in each school. Select schools will have banners with space for 400 signatures. “We hope to keep banners on display to keep promoting the drug free message for students and visitors who come to these schools,” Reynolds said.
For older students, the BOE wants to use Red Ribbon week to promote awareness on the synthetic drug problem that has recently impacted the area.
The BOE is also planning on hosting a community program to serve as a forum to educate the public on the dangers of synthetic drug abuse. “It will enable us to bring drug free red ribbon week not only in schools but also in the community,” Reynolds said.
To learn more about the STOP Coalition visit, www.drugfreemingo.org.
(Courtney Pigman is a news reporter for the Williamson Daily News. She can be contacted at [email protected], or at 304-235-4242, ext. 2279.)