MASSENA — The Massena Drug Free Community Coalition wants to know how it can best serve the community, and is looking for input from parents and guardians.
The coalition is holding a focus group from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. June 22 at its office, 213 Main St.
“We’re looking for a conversation between parents or guardians in the Massena community, whether they work here or live here, on why they believe youth are using alcohol and marijuana, kind of what their perception is on what they think the risks associated with that are,” said Jena Sloan, youth development coordinator for the Massena Drug Free Community Coalition. “Our goal is to kind of get the perspective of the adults in the community. That’s kind of a gap in our data that we’re missing.”
She said that input would allow the coalition to determine if it’s an education issue or some other issue that they might be able to set a goal to address.
With marijuana dispensaries setting up in the village, Ms. Sloan said access to them is one of their concerns.
“What we found so far is that the access is pretty easy for youth. That’s kind of between the surveys that we’ve done and the reports that we’ve gotten from them, that access certainly isn’t an issue. So, that’s something that we’re trying to work on and just educate the community,” she said.
She said some of the feedback from the youth they’ve worked with indicates there’s confusion about the legal age to purchase marijuana.
“In their conversations, they don’t find that everybody in the community actually knows that the legal age to purchase and consume marijuana is actually 21. That’s something we’re trying to get out there because from the reports and the kids, I don’t think everyone necessarily knows that. So, we’re kind of fighting against that, too,” Ms. Sloan said.
Information they obtain from the focus group will be confidential and for the coalition’s use only.
“Nobody will know who was there, who said what. We’ll actually have a facilitator in the room, and myself and our staff personally will not be in there to hear the exact responses. We’ll have someone in there taking notes, but no names or anything,” Ms. Sloan said. “What we’re going to do with that is kind of analyze the data, see what everybody’s viewpoints are, and then take that back to our coalition, just strictly numbers, just the data, just the reports.”
With that information in hand, the coalition can decide what the biggest issue is, where the biggest lack of information is and how they might approach it to address the concerns.
“The best way that we know right now is just to educate because there’s a lack of education in general out there, and also trying to figure out why people are using to begin with and stop it right there. Is it stress? Is there something we can do to avoid that? Is it just because it’s more available? Is there something we can do to put up barriers? How can we get at the root causes and stop it before it even starts?” Ms. Sloan said.
Anyone with questions can contact Ms. Sloan at firstname.lastname@example.org or 315-713-4870.
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