By: Melissa Colleary
On August 30, 2016, the Long Island Association for AIDS Care’s Educated Choices Healthy Options (ECHO) program hosted the 2016 Communities Talk: Town Hall Meetings to Prevent Underage Drinking at the Brentwood Public Library. This event was part of an initiative sponsored by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA).
The ECHO Program’s 2016 Communities Talk: Town Hall Meetings to Prevent Underage Drinking involved a panel discussion of several esteemed professionals in their respective fields. These panelists included: Assemblyman Philip Ramos of the 6th Assembly District, Police Officer Elisa McVeigh of the Suffolk County Community Relations Bureau, Alexander Arias of Brentwood High School, Leah Richberg and Kavita Chadee of the ECHO program, Brittany Becker from the Long Island Council on Alcoholism and Drug Dependence, Isai Fuentes and Melissa Smith of Mothers Against Drunk Driving, Charlene Rogers of L.I. Against Domestic Violence, and Anthony Rizzuto of Seafield Services.
The panel discussion spanned two hours, consisting of conversations about what to do if you suspect someone you care about is involved in underage drinking, and how to address the topic with someone who does not believe underage drinking to be a problem in the community.
Having panelists from a wide array of organizations participate in this event ensured varied responses to the posed questions, which allowed for a wide spectrum of information to be shared.
The 2016 Communities Talk: Town Hall Meetings to Prevent Underage Drinking was an outstanding success on social media. The event was live-streamed on Facebook and reached 1,758 people with 621 views. For future Town Hall Meetings, the ECHO program hopes to boost physical attendance while maintaining the vast reach on social media. Those who attended the event suggested hosting a future event during the school year to increase attendance. Overall, the event was extremely effective, providing the Brentwood community with much needed resources to help combat the epidemic of underage drinking.