NEWPORT CITY – Wednesday evening, area residents are invited to North Country Union High School (NCUHS) for a community forum entitled “It Can’t Happen To Me!”
The Community Forum Coalition is sponsoring the event, which starts at 7 p.m. and continues to 8:30 p.m. It will feature personal stories of substance abuse, drinking and driving, DUI accidents and fatalities and the people left behind to pick up the pieces.
Local recording artist Wayne Warner will perform.
Substance abuse is a common problem among students and adults alike, said Stephanie Currier, NCUHS social worker. “We decided to seek out local community members who had an experience of substance use in their own life and asked them to speak about what the impact is,” said Currier.
A law enforcement officer, who sits on the coalition, arranged to have Mike Lucier speak. Lucier is incarcerated at the Northern State Correctional Facility in Newport. “He is actually being brought here to the auditorium to tell his personal story about his accident that involved substance use.”
Lucier was the driver of a vehicle that struck and killed 21-year-old Bethany McAlister of Hyde Park in 2009.
Alyssa Burns of Newport City sustained broken bones and lacerations in the same accident. Both girls were pedestrians.
Warner’s video, "Black and White Rainbows," is also part of the forum. The video features the faces of those who fell victim to drug use by either on their own or through someone else. Warner will talk about his personal experiences with substance use.
“The goal was to help create this awareness,” said Currier. “We thought if we sought out local community members that it was a way to connect the audience with the actual presenters.”
The issue, said Currier, impacts everybody. She said many people, especially young people, believe substance abuse problems can’t happen to them. Currier stressed the forum has nothing to do with rumors that substance abuse is a major problem in the North Country community.
“I think substance use is a community issue,” said Currier. “The school is one entity within the community. We are certainly going to do what we can do in order to create an awareness of what the impact of substance use is.”
The forum is aimed at students, families and community members.
The coalition would like to have three addition forums this school year. It is not necessary to live in the district to attend a forum.