MONTVILLE, NJ – More than fifteen Montville Township High School [MTHS] R.E.A.C.H. students joined members of the Montville Township Drug Awareness Council [DAC] and the Montville Township Committee on May 13 to launch National Prevention Week which is May 18 through 24.

Sponsored by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration [SAMHSA], National Prevention Week strives to focus attention on resources for, and prevention of, drug and alcohol abuse.

The 2014 theme is Our Lives, Our Health, Our Future, and features the “I Choose…” Project photo campaign. The national initiative, part of National Mental Health Awareness Month, comes in time for prom and graduation season across the nation.

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R.E.A.C.H., which stands for Responsible Educated Adolescents Can Help, is a group of MTHS students who educate their peers and younger students throughout the Montville Township Public School District. The R.E.A.C.H. students are trained to help students learn to make positive choices and avoid peer pressure.

Montville Township’s DAC and the Montville Township Public Schools cooperatively support R.E.A.C.H.

Wearing pink, R.E.A.C.H. students attended Tuesday’s township meeting to present to the committee, and the community, plans for National Prevention Week. Montville’s prevention and educational activities and initiatives will be featured on SAMHSA’s national website.

“Montville Township has been chosen by the Director of the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, in Washington, D.C., as a model for how communities can mobilize their efforts to celebrate National Prevention Week,” said Committeeman Scott Gallapo when introducing Montville’s R.E.A.C.H. students. “Montville Township activities will be highlighted on their national website. This is a very big deal.”

The R.E.A.C.H. executive committee then presented daily prevention information which will be shared at MTHS throughout National Prevention Week. R.E.A.C.H. will also facilitate SAMHSA’s “I Choose…” Project at Montville schools.

According to SAMHSA’s website, “Participating in the ‘I Choose…’ Project is easy – all you have to do is take a photograph of yourself holding a sign with your personal message about why substance abuse prevention or mental health is important to you.”

Participants in the “I Choose…” Project are invited to submit their photos to NewMedia@samhsa.hhs.gov in order to be part of a national photo album for mental health and the prevention of substance abuse.

During National Prevention Week, DAC will also launch its first Newsletter. Filled with prevention and educational information, the DAC Newsletter can be viewed at Latest News on Montville.net, the website for the Montville Township Public Schools.

Additionally, two Car Crash exhibits will be displayed at the Montville Township Police Department and Town Hall. The cars are accident vehicles which were totaled by impaired drivers.

“One in four young people aged twelve to twenty report drinking alcohol…One in five Americans begin by smoking cigarettes. Nationally, one person dies every 19 minutes from Opiate or Heroine abuse,” Montville Mayor Don Kostka said. “For this reason I am asking the citizens of Montville Township to join me in celebrating National Prevention Week.”

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iqindLC_3s0

As the Mayor presented the proclamation, R.E.A.C.H. students stood and each one held an “I Choose…” poster. Each proclaimed an intention to choose to avoid substance abuse and promote mental health.

DAC and R.E.A.C.H. invited the Mayor to conclude the presentation with the ribbon cutting for Montville Township’s first Resource Information Center. The Center, a kiosk, is stocked with brochures and information, including DAC’s Newsletter. It will be placed in the lobby of Town Hall. In the coming months, additional Resource Information Centers are scheduled to be placed in schools and other public buildings throughout Montville Township.