July 07, 2008 —
Even for an involved parent like me, it can be a shock to find out that something like cough medicine abuse is happening in your own neighborhood. I try my best to keep my ear to the ground through my involvement in D.A.R.E., as a member of law enforcement, and as a founding member of the Five Moms. Last winter, though, I was really surprised when the clerk at a local supermarket told me that nearly $200 worth of cough medicine had been stolen.
That was in the end of November. My natural inclination, as someone active in my community, was to say, "What can I do now?" I decided back then that I wanted to step up my efforts, and that's exactly what I did.
Together with the help of the Community Anti-Drug Coalitions of America (CADCA), a partner of the Five Moms campaign, we put together a town hall meeting in my own town: Hutchinson, Kansas. The purpose of this event was to let members of my community know about the cough medicine abuse, especially since we had some evidence that it was happening in our neighborhood.
We held it in April at the local community college, and I was very pleased to see a huge turnout. There were nearly 50 people from all over the community. We were joined by educators, ER nurses, physicians, and pharmacists, and all of them came out to share their concerns about the dangers of cough medicine abuse and ideas for the future.
The highlight, for me, was the second half of the meeting. After a few of us had presented the information and resources we had, we opened up the floor for a discussion. I could hardly believe the amount of questions that this group of community leaders had. It seemed that nearly everyone had something to say on the issue.
It was amazing for me to see how a casual conversation at a local supermarket led to an event that brought so many people together to talk about this important issue. While all of these people certainly have important roles in our community, many of them were parents, too. I was energized when I saw how my neighbors rallied around their concerns for the safety of their children. We ended the night with a common vision moving forward: We aren't stopping here. It is our job to share everything we learned from each other with our kids and other parents.
If you want to find out more about the great work CADCA does, I recommend checking the organization out at its web site. You can find stuff in your own community to get involved with, too. Don't forget to check out the tips we have at FiveMoms.com on how you can help educate your community.