Since America declared the “war on drugs” 40 years ago, it’s racked up 45 million arrests, packed prisons, and cost the nation more than a trillion dollars. Teachers, parents, and members of community groups in Jefferson Township think they have a better idea.
Convinced that it’s better to educate than incarcerate, the Jefferson Township Education Association has joined with school administrators and municipal organizations and pulled together a program that it hopes will help break the cycle of substance abuse.
Their group is called the “JTEAM” (for Jefferson Township Education Association & Municipal Organizations). Its first presentation, “An Introduction to Meditation,” is set for May 1, from 7:00 to 8:30 p.m., in the high school auditorium. The workshop will focus on how breathing exercises and meditation can alleviate physical and mental tension.
Rosemary McHugh is a media specialist in the middle school and chair of JTEAM, which has partnered with the local PTA, the Lake Hopatcong Elks, and other municipal organizations to offer programs to educate students and the community about the dangers of abusing drugs and other substances, including alcohol. The group includes 16 teachers, from every school in the district, who have volunteered to plan in-classroom as well as evening events.
“We want our students to learn to make better choices,” says McHugh. “There’s a misconception that drug use is just a phase or rite of passage. The fact is that addiction is a lifelong struggle that often begins in the teen years”
JTEAM aims to counter this problem through “positive goal-oriented life skills training” combined with drug awareness education, she said. It has created a website, www.jeffersonteam.org, as a resource for parents, students, and teachers on the dangers of substance abuse and on where to get help.
JTEAM’s May 1 workshop is free to all community members and students in grades 6-12. Free childcare will be provided. Enroll by clicking the event on the calendar page at www.jeffersonteam.org.
Funding for this presentation is provided through a PRIDE grant from the New Jersey Education Association in partnership with the Lake Hopatcong Elks. If you are interested in partnering with JTEAM by donating funds or other resources—or if you work in the mental health field and would like to donate your time as a presenter—please contact JTEAM at firstname.lastname@example.org.