Circle Park, law enforcement gather for holiday luncheon
Circle Park Behavioral Health Services, the Florence County Coalition for Alcohol and other Drug Abuse Prevention and the 12th Judicial Circuit Law Enforcement Network hosted its annual holiday luncheon at the Florence Country Club on Friday, Dec.11. The luncheon provides local agencies and law enforcement an opportunity to recognize and celebrate local achievements in reducing the impact of alcohol and other drugs on the local community over the past year.
Nearly 100 community members and law enforcement officers attended this year’s event. Circle Park CEO, Randy Cole, shared this is an event that he looks forward to each year because it gives him the opportunity to thank so many of the key partners supporting Circle Park’s community efforts. “The most effective approach to minimizing the negative effects of alcohol and other drugs in our community is through a collaboration of resources.
We have been fortunate over the years to have the support of many key community members and especially that of local law enforcement. As a result, youth in our community are much less likely to use alcohol and other drugs than their statewide peers and have a better opportunity to become healthy, happy and productive adults.” The attendees were also updated on the latest trends in youth behaviors in the community.
Recent research is reflecting a significant drop in monthly use of alcohol by teens in the Florence community and nationwide as well. Unfortunately the research is also indicating a rise in marijuana and prescription drug use. Tobacco use rates have also fallen, but e-cigarettes and vaping have risen significantly. In fact more teens are now initiating e-cigarette use and vaping than cigarette use.
The dangers of social media and internet use were also addressed as it has become an increasingly influential factor in the choices that youth make. Parents and youth advocates were encouraged to educate themselves on the dangers and effects of social media and internet use and set boundaries to ensure their children’s safety. As disturbing as some of the issues and consequences are facing youth today, overall a larger percentage of youth are making positive choices and not becoming involved with alcohol or other drugs during their teen years.
Richard Sale, chairman of the Florence County Coalition for Alcohol and other Drug Abuse Prevention, said “We are very proud of the work that has been done by the coalition and the Florence community over the years in regards to reducing the negative influences of alcohol and other drugs on our community’s youth. It has taken the collaboration of many partners, many that are here today to be so successful. I am particularly excited to see that most youth today are making positive and legal choices in regards to alcohol and other drugs. That choice enhances their future and makes a safer community for all of us.”
Several attendees were recognized for their contributions over the past year. The Johnsonville High School Teen Institute team was recognized for its efforts in providing effective prevention programs and activities in their school and community. Johnsonville student’s alcohol and other drug use rates are significantly lower than those of other students across the state, in large part due to the efforts of its Teen Institute team.
Those students attending the event were Savanna Young, Gracelynn Squires, Daisha Cooper, Samuel Cook, Peyton Lewis, Catelyn Grier, Tammy Wise, TaShanda Wright and their advisor Megan Sanders. Law enforcement officers Jason Bazen of the Florence County Sheriff’s Office and James T. Hicks of the South Carolina Highway Patrol were also recognized for their efforts in reducing the negative impact of alcohol and other drugs in the 12th Judicial Circuit.
Law enforcement and its support have long been recognized as an essential part of Circle Park and the Florence County Coalition’s success. Numerous law enforcement initiatives such as safety check points, compliance checks, party patrols and the efforts of the Alcohol Enforcement Team have all assisted in providing a safer and healthier environment for youth and the community at large.