SUMMIT, NJ - Red ribbons all over the Hilltop City signify that Summit has made a clear articulation -- and a firm commitment -- to ensure that the community remains steadfast in mitigating the adverse impact of substance use and abuse via prescription drugs, illegal drugs, and inappropriate consumption of alcohol.

“Prevention is a tough topic to discuss," said Annette Dwyer, Summit’s Chair of the Municipal Alliance operating under the umbrella of Shaping Summit Together. “It’s tough because the relevance of the topic resonates differently based on the audience to whom the message is directed, and the circumstances at hand. Depending on the circumstances, there can be a ‘not ever,'; a ‘not now,’ and-or a ‘not under these conditions' set of scenarios."

Summit Public Schools’ Superintendent, June Chang, along with the Superintendents of Chatham, Berkeley Heights, New Providence and Millburn and their respective Student Assistance Counselors, have been working with area stakeholders on a Parent Wellness Series addressing topics such as substance abuse, mindfulness, and social and emotional development.

Sign Up for E-News

The first such Forum, held at Summit High School, featured a panel of experts who presented various perspectives of legislation, recovery services, social-emotional, legal and death toll statistics relating to substance abuse. Each of the panelists within their area of expertise validated the complexity of the conversation, affirming the will to keep talking about the topic.

“There is much more work to do to educate people about the laws governing the topic”, said Summit Police Chief Robert Weck, adding, “but we are headed in the right direction.”

Throughout the last two weeks of October, there is a variety of programming in the elementary schools, middle school and high school, community agencies, and the community-at-large to firmly plant the idea that Summit is serious about making sure that the escalating statewide problem of drug abuse does not become a significant local problem.

Red ribbons on trees, along with red tulips planted now which will come up in the spring at prom and graduation time, are visual reminders of the cause and commitment. The Rotary Club of Summit and New Providence has dedicated their Summit Luncheon October 26 to honor the poster, essay, and multi-media winners for their part in making the messages relevant to youth of all ages about the importance of making healthy choices.