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Norwood candidates, residents will gather to brainstorm substance-abuse prevention

Posted October 2

— A candidate forum in Norwood will focus solely on substance abuse prevention.

On Oct. 5, ASAP Norwood has invited all City Council and School Board candidates to the Community Center to brainstorm substance-abuse prevention strategies with residents.

ASAP Norwood is a coalition of residents, government agencies -- including the health department and school district -- businesses and community and faith-based organizations, working to make the city drug free. Organizers will start the forum with general information about substance abuse prevention and end by asking each candidate to commit to at least one prevention strategy.

"We don't expect anybody to come into this knowing everything about substance abuse and prevention," said Angela Pancella, an ASAP Norwood organizer. "But I do think it's a good sign to have candidates engaged in the conversation."

ASAP Norwood began with community concerns. The coalition formed after a health department survey in 2012 showed that drug abuse, especially among young people, was one of the biggest worries for Norwood residents.

Student groups at Norwood high and middle schools have organized anti-drug events and campaigns. The Norwood Police Department and Health Department partnered to bring information about treatment and recovery options to households that experience heroin overdoses. Screenings at school help identify students who might be at risk of addiction, and small-group prevention training sessions have come to Norwood homes.

Deb Robison coordinates the efforts in Norwood schools.

"We believe strongly that it can't be eight or 10 people sitting around our table," Robison said. "Our job is to activate the community."

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