LIVINGSTON, NJ – As a way to bring awareness about the dangers of using illegal drugs, tobacco, alcohol and vaping to Livingston’s youth, the Livingston Municipal Alliance Committee (LMAC) and Livingston Police Department’s (LPD) Community Policing Unit hosted an interactive program at Haines Pool last week.

Over ice cream and pizza, nearly 350 participants learned about pamphlets about substance abuse and educational posters.

“Studies show that tweens and teens are likely to experiment with drugs in the summer,” said LMAC chair Sasha Pailet Koff.

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More than a decade ago, LMAC was formed to help parents find ways to discourage their children from trying drugs, tobacco and alcohol and to help parents whose children are abusing substances. In keeping with LMAC’s mission to maintain a strong community presence so it can disseminate this message, many parents attend LMAC meetings five or six times a year to “discuss trends and programming that will have an impact,” according to Pailet Koff.

LMAC also spreads its message by working with the CPU’s Law Enforcement Against Drugs (LEAD) program, the Livingston Board of Education and non-profit organizations in addition to offering a self-help group for parents.

Another recent event that spread LMAC’s message to both adults and high school-age teenagers was a book talk and signing held in conjunction with the Livingston Vision 20/20 education sub-committee and Healthy Community, Healthy Youth (HCHY).The mid-April event featured Livingston High School graduate and celebrity agent Darren Prince, whose international best-selling book, “Aiming High: How a Prominent Sports & Celebrity Agent Hit Bottom at the Top,” shares the journey of about his battle with drug addiction and the road to recovery.

Pailet Koff added that LMAC also “advocates for funding and resources on the municipal and state levels so they can run programs like the Haines drug awareness pizza event.”

CPU Officers Kevin Mullaney and Joy Klapal—who handle LEAD community outreach, conduct assemblies at Livingston schools during the academic year and participate in various other community outreach programs—were thrilled with the outcome of the poolside event.

“Everyone was enthusiastic,” said Mullaney. “It was the perfect mix between education and enjoyment. It was a great community event.”

Klapal agreed, stating that she was “happy to be a part of this” and that the CPU “always welcomes the opportunity to have positive interactions with the community.”

Jennifer Walker, director of Livingston’s Senior, Youth and Leisure Services, added that the event was “a tremendous success.”

Thanks to a donation from Turano Pizza, 25 pizzas were served during the event. Haines Pool Manager Richard Shue and township council members Michael Vieira and Rudy Fernandez were also on hand to lend their support to the cause.

LMAC and the LPD will host a second drug awareness event at Haines Pool from 3:30 p.m. to 5:30 p.m. on Aug. 22. There will be a trivia game with prizes. The free event is open to the public regardless of pool membership.