Youth First; Who is the Mayor's Task Force?

This article was written by Joan Janusz; she is a member of the Northfield Mayor’s Task Force on Youth Alcohol and Drug Use.

Long name?-yes. Short-lived task force?-no. A focus on youth?-yes. Only on youth?-no

Who is this group known generally as the MTF? (Mayor’s Task Force).  What do they do?

The answers to these questions can be found in the annual “Report to the Community”, September 2012.  The Report can be read at http://northfieldhci.org/publications or a copy can be requested by calling the Healthy Community Initiative office:  507-664-3524.                                     

In May of 2006, the Task Force began as a result of concerns from several neighbors about the use of alcohol and/or drugs by unsupervised underage youth. Calls to the police had not stopped the activity; these neighbors were frustrated.  Among other actions, the then police chief suggested a community “coalition” approach. 

Formed initially as a task force of youth and adults to discuss the problem of underage youth drinking, it was evident that it was a community issue. The group was committed to looking at long term solutions, to be “advocates for and with youth and their families, committed to creating a community where our youth can live healthy lives free of alcohol and drug use” (the MTF mission statement). 

In addition the MTF is charged by the Mayor and City Council with:  raising community awareness about youth alcohol and drug use through education and communication; providing a citizen voice in community efforts to reduce use; examine existing policies and practices and develop and implement recommendations. 

Our work is enhanced by many community partners.  These partnerships enable us to do what none of us could do alone. They strengthen programs for youth and our community. 

As outlined in the annual report, some of the many activities and programs the MTF is involved with include: 1) the ongoing Medication Disposal program, “Take It To The Box” where people can anonymously drop off unused prescription or over the counter medications 24/7 in the secure drop box in the lobby of the Northfield or Faribault Police Stations. 2) School Activities Support: co-sponsors the Life of an Athlete program at the Senior High—a nationally recognized program emphasizing the impact use of alcohol and drugs has on athletic performance 3) Parent Education and Resources:  an education initiative encouraging parents to Talk, Listen, and Connect with their children.  Postcards on parenting topics are sent to parents of middle and high school parents. The MTF is a partner in publishing and distributing resource/telephone directories to all parents of middle and high school students. 4) The MOST Campaign: a unique program initiated by the MTF, the goal is to correct student misperceptions about their peers’ drug and alcohol use. 

There are other projects mentioned in the Report:  exploring a drug court in Rice County, sponsoring a Youth Video PSA contest, endorsing the adoption of Social Host Ordinances, and other activities.

The MTF is a small group and an active one. We are seeking new members: anyone who has an interest in youth and is in agreement with the mission and charges. Interested persons are encouraged to attend one of our monthly meetings the first Monday of each month at 7:00 p.m. at the NCRC.  Call 507-664-3524 for more information.  

 


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