How Mentoring Supports Youth Impacted by the Opioid Epidemic – Episode 114

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This podcast episode is supported by Grant # 2020-JY-FX-0002 awarded by the Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention, a component of the Office of Justice Programs at U.S. Department of Justice. The opinions, findings, and conclusions or recommendations expressed in this podcast are those of our guests and do not necessarily reflect those of the Department of Justice.

While we have talked a lot about the COVID-19 pandemic on the show, and how that has been impacting communities, there also is another crisis that is impacting our communities and continuing to grow – the opioid epidemic. According to recent data from the CDC’s National Center for Health Statistics, more than 107,600 people died from drug overdoses last year, with more than 71,000 being opioid-related.

NRPA recognizes the impact substance misuse has on local park and recreation agencies and their communities, and to address this issue, we are supporting local agencies in their efforts to pilot a mentorship program for youth impacted by the opioid epidemic. One of these agencies is the park and recreation department in Berwick, Maine, which was recently awarded a grant that will help start a youth mentoring program that will prevent, reduce and address opioid misuse among youth in the Berwick community through evidence-based mentoring practices.

I’m so excited to be joined by three individuals who are playing a key role in this program: Angela O’Connor, the director of parks and recreation for City of Berwick; Patrice Baker, the director of prevention programs at Pinetree Institute; and Chief Bob MacKenzie, the police chief for Kennebunk Police Department.

Tune in to the full episode below to learn more about how Angela, Patrice and Robert came together to bring this program to their community. You’ll also learn:

  • What issues they noticed in their community that led then to apply for this grant
  • What goals they are hoping to accomplish with this program
  • How have their own experiences contributed to working on solutions to address the opioid crisis in thei community
  • Why partnerships are so important, especially in work of this nature
  • How they are breaking down stigma and opening up more conversations across the community around substance use disorder
  • How park and recreation professionals can start a program like this in their community and address issues like substance use disorder and the importance of youth mentoring, and more!

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