Paul Zinni, Superintendent
18 King Street
Norfolk, MA 02056
For Immediate Release
Monday, Oct. 15, 2018
Media Contact: Benjamin Paulin
Email: [email protected]
King Philip Regional School District to Launch Healthy KP Coalition
New Program Takes Aim at Drug, Alcohol Use Among Students
WRENTHAM — Superintendent Paul Zinni is pleased to announce that the King Philip Regional School District will be forming a new coalition aimed at preventing the use of alcohol, drugs and tobacco among students called Healthy KP.
“We take this issue very seriously and student health and wellness is a priority of the district,” Superintendent Zinni said. “Any child who is abusing a substance is one too many. We want to be proactive and this program will work toward our goal of making our communities safer, healthier and substance-free.”
The introductory meeting for Healthy KP was held on Oct. 3 at the high school and was attended by more than 150 people, including:
- Wrentham, Plainville and Norfolk police officers and school resource officers
- State Representative Shawn C. Dooley
- Members of the SAFE Coalition
- Superintendents or representatives from the school districts in Wrentham, Plainville and Norfolk
The purpose of the meeting was to introduce the new program and to gauge interest from attendees about becoming community representatives for Healthy KP. A survey was taken to find out what strengths and areas of expertise people might be able to lend to the effort in the short-term and long-term.
Assistant High School Principal Kip Lewis will be helping to make sure that the program gets off its feet and will represent the school district in subsequent meetings.
“What a great turnout for the first meeting,” Assistant Principal Lewis said. “Not only were there representatives from our school districts and police departments, there was a significant amount of students in attendance, which was really nice to see. I think it shows that this is a community issue that we all have to recognize and face head-on together.”
A 2016 anonymous student survey, called the MetroWest Health Survey, showed startling data among high school students throughout the region. Administrators analyzed information from 24,385 students in grades 9-12 from 26 high schools.
Of the King Philip High School students that took the survey:
- 25 percent reported that they had vaped or used e-cigarettes
- 44 percent had consumed alcohol
- 25 percent had used marijuana
- 6 percent reported misusing prescription drugs
“While those figures are on par with statewide data, it shows us that there is significant work that needs to be done in our communities to address substance use and abuse,” Superintendent Zinni said. “The first step is coming together as a collective group and working to build a culture that permeates throughout all aspects of our communities that abusing drugs and alcohol is not okay.”
Healthy KP has commissioned the services of Bright Solutions, substance use prevention consulting company, which will assist in guiding the coalition through its beginning phases and help with applying for a federal Drug-Free Communities grant.
If awarded the grant, Healthy KP would receive $125,000 in funding each year for a period of five years. They would then be eligible to apply for the grant again. Those funds would allow Healthy KP to hire full-time staff members to run the program and pay for data collection, focus groups, awareness efforts and programming.
To be eligible for the grant Healthy KP must form a steering committee made up of representatives and participants from 12 sectors of the community including:
- Law enforcement
- Youth-serving organizations
- Religious and fraternal organizations
- Civic and volunteer groups
- Healthcare professionals
- State, local, and tribal agencies with expertise in substance abuse
- Other organizations involved in reducing substance abuse”Later this month, another anonymous student survey about substance use and risky behavior will be done, which will give us even more insight,” Assistant Principal Lewis said. “Students are faced with a lot of different influences these days, including social media, and it can create challenges for kids to make the right decisions.”
The next Healthy KP meeting is on Wednesday, Nov. 7, from 6:30-8 p.m. at the high school. All are welcome and encouraged to attend.
“Once Healthy KP has put together their action plan, they can begin to look deeper into the issues of how and why students are using these substances,” said Amanda Decker, CEO of Bright Solutions. “Are they stealing alcohol or prescription medication from their parents? Is someone buying the alcohol for them? How easy is it for them to buy marijuana? What stores are selling e-cigarettes and are they carding enough? Each community has different answers to those questions and the willingness and ability to delve into these topics is what makes programs like Healthy KP so important.”