Notes from Newcastle — Drug-free group comes to Newcastle

June 4, 2015

By Christina Corrales-Toy

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A who’s who of the Newcastle community leadership gathered at City Hall for a very important discussion April 28.

Mayor Steve Buri, Newcastle Police Chief Melinda Irvine and Issaquah School District Superintendent Ron Thiele were among the attendees at a community conversation about teen drug abuse in the area.

The event represented the first step in the Issaquah Drug Free Community Coalition’s attempt to raise awareness of its mission and services in Newcastle. The coalition, acting under the umbrella of the Healthy Youth Initiative, has already held similar events in Issaquah and Sammamish.

The Drug Free Community Coalition’s purpose is to prevent and reduce youth alcohol, marijuana and prescription drug abuse within the Issaquah School District service area, which includes parts of Newcastle.

The group invited prominent Newcastle leaders, split everyone into small groups and asked questions about local drug abuse.

Participants were asked what “worrisome activities” they had seen around town, what the root causes of these activities were and what could be done to prevent these challenges.

Several attendees noticed teens appear to have a more “relaxed” attitude about marijuana since its legalization. Others noted a lack of “economic barriers” making it easier for youth in the affluent Newcastle community to acquire drugs.

The discussion produced a plethora of valuable responses, all of which we’ve published on our website here.

While this conversation was geared toward the adult attendees, the coalition often works directly with students. Last year, the group held a student panel about drugs at Liberty High School.

The only thing missing at the conversation was a Renton schools representative. Newcastle is a bit disjointed in that two school districts serve its students.

Rich Mellish, Newcastle Elementary’s principal, as well as a few of his teachers joined the conversation, as did the Issaquah School District’s superintendent and a local school board member.

The conversation ultimately isn’t whole without bringing in both sides of Newcastle.

The Issaquah Drug Free Community Coalition is a great organization empowering youths to make good choices. Newcastle certainly benefits as the group works to increase its presence here in the city.

Learn more about the Healthy Youth Initiative’s Drug Free Community Coalition at www.healthyyouthinitiative.org.

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