Nashua, NH – Here’s a safe bet for those looking for increase their family’s fun factor.
Rain or shine, on May 3 you are invited to Family Fun Day at Nashua High School South, 36 Riverside St., Nashua, NH from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. The event is hosted by Lil’ Iguana’s Children’s Safety Foundation, a Nashua-based nonprofit focused on keeping children safe.
Family Fun Day is always a huge draw, because it includes a variety of fun-focused activities that emphasize health, fitness, safety and literacy for the whole family. Activities scheduled include bounce houses by Jump Around NH; Fisher Cat baseball pitching station; face painting; balloon art; kids activities/crafts; Party Palace princess characters; Rainbow the Macaw; a coloring contest, and much more.
There will also be healthy food and beverage samples, and plenty of indoor activities.
Kids can enter the Lil’ Iguana Coloring Contest where two winners will receive a grand prize of a new bike and helmet donated by Target. All participants in the contest will receive a book as their prize when they return their artwork to Family FunDay. The official entry form can be found here: www.liliguanausa.org/ffd-may
All-day live entertainment will include: YMCA Dance InMotion; Extreme Coupon Professors; Mad Science; Tokyo Joe’s Studio of Self Defense; Rhythmic Revolution Baton Twirling; Music for kids with Sharon Novak,; Jazzercise for kids with Terry; the Whirlygigs & Mr. Whirly; Showcase Performing Arts; Big Joe the Storyteller.
Costume characters and team mascots will be participating in a Mascot Parade at 12 p.m. and will be available for Meet and Greets from 10:30 a.m.-2:30 p.m. Look out for Lil’ Iguana, Yoshi, Moo Moo, Fungo, Oakie, Orson, Sir Sterling and a favorite mascot from Canobie Lake Park.
Sponsors of Family Fun Day include: Well Sense Health Plan of NH; Fidelity Investments/UNIQUE College Investing Plan; SafetySnapp; Jump Around NH; Collins Dentistry for Children; Allen Mello Chrysler Jeep Dodge Ram; Coffee News; Zevia; Oakhurst; Main Street Chiropractic; Shorty’s Mexican Roadhouse; Boogie Wipes; Party Palace; Longhorn Steakhouse; and Target.
BONUS: Click here to find out how to win a free family 4-Pack Lunch at the event, via Lil’ Iguana’s Facebook page.
Four dozen of New Hampshire’s top law officers, health officials and addiction experts came together to share their first-hand frustrations and observations about the fallout from the current drug epidemic responsible for unprecedented accidental deaths, spiking crime rates and a revolving door of addiction here, and across the country.
U.S. Sen. Kelly Ayotte, R-NH, organized the two-hour listening session on April 23, a group which included: NH Attorney General Joseph Foster; police chiefs from more than a dozen cities and towns, including Manchester Chief David Mara and Nashua Chief John Seusing; Chief Medical Examiner Dr. Thomas Andrew; Dr. Cheryl Wilkie, of Easter Seals/Farnum Center; and others.
The only thing missing from the gathering was the kind of politicized posturing one might expect from a meeting of the minds involving state officials and federal officials.
Instead, the panelists spoke with a genuine sense of urgency about the alarming prevalence of heroin and opiate use, which has rapidly become an epic public health problem here.
Jails are jammed, with no in-house rehabilitation; state-funded beds at treatment centers have wait lists at least two months out. Crime victims have no assurance that their communities are safe from drug-driven criminals. Families are desperate for answers.
The result is a revolving door of addicts who can’t get the treatment they need to recover, which leads to relapse and recidivism. Unintended consequences include over-burdened police drug units and a staggering spike in death rates, 96 percent of them deemed “accidental.”
The following is a recap of the highlights from each of the seven resulting video clips, filmed at Manchester NH Police headquarters:
You can watch all seven parts of the Heroin/Opioid Roundtable below. Just click play.
Manchester Police Chief David Mara talks about the progression of heroin addiction for the typical user – often escalating from oxycodone use. But with a street cost of $30 for a 30 milligram pill, multiplied by a several pill-a-day habit, addicts turn to crime to support their addiction.
Mara said over the past four years, Manchester’s drug unit has confiscated an increasing amount of heroin:
2010 – 45.25 grams
2011 – 186.8 grams
2012 – 406.2 grams
2013 – 664.6 grams
In the first quarter of 2014: 600 grams of heroin were confiscated so far, on track to quadruple what was confiscated in 2013.
New Hampshire Chief Medical Examiner Dr. Thomas Andrew said annual drug deaths have increased from about 50 to nearly 200 in the past decade.
Of the 193 drug-related deaths in 2013, all but two were ruled accidental, pointing out an unintended consequence of drug addiction.
“If we saw a 400 percent increase in asthma or traffic deaths or homicides, that would get a lot of attention,” Andrew said. But we’ve seen a 400 percent increase in drug deaths, and the deaths are just the tip of the iceberg.”
Purity and price are the driving factors pushing heroin to the top of the chart of most-deadly drug.
NH Attorney General Joseph Foster said heroin and prescription drugs are a problem in every jurisdiction across the state.
“It has no boundaries. When I meet with Attorneys General from around the country, I hear the same thing,” Foster said.
He relayed getting a prescription for 30 pain killers after minor knee surgery.
“I probably only needed six or seven of them, but it led me to think about what would have happened if I were prone to addiction?” Foster said. “I don’t believe we can arrest or prosecute our way out of this.”
He has asked the NH legislature to add another drug prosecutor to his team, and will press for more treatment options.
He said he’s also working to put more Narcan, an opiate blocker, into the hands of police and medical personnel.
Dr. Cheryl Wilkie, Senior Vice President of Substance Abuse Services for the Farnum Center in Manchester, said New Hampshire is heading “in the right direction.” Wilkie would like to see jails and prisons include treatment for addicts, once incarcerated.
“They are a captive audience, and we’re already paying $30,000 for them to be there,” Wilkie said.
Kensington Police Chief Michael Sielicki said police see no short- or long-term solution.
“There’s nothing we can do but arrest them and hope they sober up and stop breaking into houses,” Sielicki said.
He is calling for a top-down approach to solving this problem.
“There has to be a more comprehensive approach. There has to be leadership from the top to focus all our efforts in fighting this,” Sielicki said.
Enfield NH Police Chief Richard Crate said it’s time to call on the medical community to stop over-prescribing oxy medications.
“Even officers in our ranks have been affected by this, and we’re going to see more of it – and these numbers are going to continue to increase. When you talk about 20 year olds fighting heroin addiction, they will be fighting it for the rest of their lives, and will probably be in treatment centers for the rest of their lives. This doesn’t go away.”
Medical Examiner, Dr. Thomas Andrew, said for every death from drugs in New Hampshire there are 26 people seeking treatment; over 100 habitual users; and 675 who are at some point in the pipeline to addiction.
“The death piece is the tip of the iceberg. The bang for the buck is in treatment, not on my side,” Andrew said.
Andrew also talked about the call to boycott Zohydro, a controversial new time-release opiate that has recently received FDA approval, and which some experts say will only increase the problem of opiate addiction.
Nashua NH Police Chief John Seusing said “the majority of crimes investigated” by police across New Hampshire are either directly or indirectly related to this drug.
Over the past four years the number of heroin-related arrests in Nashua have increased six fold, and the number of overdoses are on track to triple this year over 2013 overdose statistics.
Seusing said his primary focus is to get drug dealers off the street. But it’s equally important to focus on treatment, otherwise addicts and dealers end up right back on the street.
Based on the need in Nashua, Seusing is preparing to request an increase in funding from the Board of Aldermen to hire more police officers.
“My drug unit has told me there is too much work on the street for them to handle,” Seusing said.
Portsmouth NH Police Chief Stephen Dubois said based on what he’s heard from his peers, things worked better when there were more federal funding sources available to fight the crack problem of the 1980s and early 1990s.
Sen. Kelly Ayotte, R-NH, said there are things that can be done from a federal level to help state and local law enforcement.
“I know there are always challenging budget times – but I think this is a priority for people. What I’m hearing from my colleagues, is that this isn’t a Republican or Democrat issue; this is just basic for everyone, in terms of public safety and quality of life,” Ayotte said.
Hampton NH Police Chief Jamie Sullivan said he’d like to hear more about holding drug companies accountable.
“What can we do to address the extreme profit motive these pharmaceuticals have to put these pills out there?” Sullivan asked. He said he’d like to engage drug companies in providing more education and treatment.
Enfield NH Police Chief Richard Crate said federal programs like Operation Streetsweeper may have been effective for the crack epidemic, but in small towns, treatment options are what’s needed most.
“I have housewives and moms burglarizing other homes for pills … I don’t need more officers, I need more help with treatment centers available to rural communities, so when we arrest them we have a place to send them so it stops,” Crate said.
Dr. Cheryl Wilkie said the heroin epidemic is different from other drug problems.
“I don’t think we’re going to see this changing back to cocaine or any other drug. The way heroin hits the system, the addiction is so powerful, and coming off of it is so different from coming off cocaine. With heroin, you are so sick you will do whatever it takes to get the drug, which is why we’re seeing housewives, and all the different people , who will do anything. It’s the only thing that stops them from being sick. That addiction doesn’t just disappear. This is going to be the drug of choice, and once they try this they will not spend another dime on alcohol or cocaine or anything else,” Wilkie said.
Derry NH Police Chief Ed Garone said he was frustrated, and sensed frustration of others in the room.
“Law enforcement has to do something about the symbiotic relationship between supply and demand, and law enforcement has the ability to affect one side of it – and that’s the supply side, and we do that by arresting,” Garone said.
“Once arrested, they have to be incarcerated and when they are incarcerated they need treatment. It’s the perfect opportunity to provide treatment. I’ve been told you can spend however long in prison as an addict, and when you come out, you’re still an addict and that is a problem,” he said.
Garone also said there are too many victims.
“This is an ugly octopus, this goes way out into the community,” and fighting it is a “three-pronged stool – education, treatment and enforcement.”
“We can’t arrest our way out of it, but we have to stop saying it costs too much to incarcerate. We can’t wait to educate 7th or 8th graders so by time they’re 17 or 18 or 19 they are not breaking into homes; we have to do something now,” Garone said.
Manchester Public Health Director Tim Soucy said he was heartened to hear so many law enforcement officials talk about treatment.
Getting to kids earlier will help. But for now, quality of life issues persist.
“Not a day goes by where my office doesn’t get called to go pick up used needles in the city. We’re finding them everywhere – street corners, people’s driveways, alleys, woods – and I’m concerned with the long-range implication of this continued needle use that we’ll see more Hep C and HIV,” Soucy said.
These drugs are coming primarily from South America and Afghanistan. Dr. Thomas Andrew made the point that someone needs to cultivate better collaboration across state borders to stop the drugs from coming in.
“The corridors from which these [drugs] are distributed are 91 and 95. If we look at a Zip Code analysis, there’s a wide swath between Keene and the Seacoast; the Lakes Region and North Country; and the border and south. Is it a federal responsibility to enhance interdiction efforts and distribution? We’re not even hassling the end users, at the distribution level, and I think this is federal responsibility,” Andrew said.
Attendees will hear from female leaders of industry with a common message: promoting access for others while contributing to change in large and small ways.
What to expect? An evening of inspiring stories, practical tips, and networking aimed at informing and empowering all professionals.
Join NHBR reporter Kathleen Callahan as she interviews a variety of women who are leading industries traditionally dominated by men. Discover how they stand up, stand out, and stay relevant in sectors sometimes unfamiliar with hearing women’s voices.
I know this because I was honored to be asked to participate in the Human Library Project at Goffstown High School as a “book,” and speak with student “readers” interested in a career in writing.
The event, held April 16 at Goffstown High School, was a twist on what has become an international effort to break down barriers and stereotypes. The Human Library Project began a dozen years ago in Copenhagen, Denmark, a response to an act violence, and an effort to build community.
For the New Hampshire students, it was a chance to meet, one-on-one, with “human books,” people recruited from the community who were there to provide some insight into career choices and talk about how they found their way to doing what they love.
Every time a bell rings, students can move to a new table and “read” a new human book.
The Goffstown High School event was the third in a series of three Human Library Projects organized by school librarian Melissa Mannon, and her colleagues, Sandy Whipple and Carolyn White Gamtso.
It was a first for New Hampshire.
“I started as a reader at Goffstown Public Library two weeks ago. I was a Human book as the granddaughter of Holocaust survivors (April 15) at University of New Hampshire at Manchester event. Today I am an organizer at Goffstown High School. This has been a great experience for us all,” said Mannon.
The Human Library experience also gives students the opportunity to see how different career choices can impact lifestyles. It was designed to be a comfortable experience where students could feel free to ask any questions they want without embarrassment or judgment, Mannon said.
I was stationed at Table 19, and had three “readers” for the event – Alex, an aspiring journalist who wants to be a foreign war correspondent; Alexis, a budding novelist; and Emily, who wants to be a pharmacist.
As it turned out, the person Emily came to speak to was not available, so I did my best to “read” her and her interest in pharmacology, then channeled my inner guidance counselor and tapped my endless internal library of professions I’ve written about, which fortunately included a brush with a compound pharmacist.
I learned Emily also is considering a career in physical therapy, and was able to point her in the direction of my fellow human book, Rhoda Sommer of Anytime Fitness.
I found this event to be inspiring – in particular because it brings people together to talk about things that matter to them. Face-to-face conversation is something that unfortunately has been eclipsed by the ease of computerized social networking.
I see this as a great way to build community – Human Libraries to help citizens get to know their elected officials or city workers; for students to get to know their classroom teachers in a different way; for neighbors to get to know neighbors, which helps us to understand that we all have a unique life story to tell, but underneath it all, we share the common bond of humanity – which is as comforting as it is life affirming.
That’s not just an old slogan for Virginia Slims cigarettes, but a historical fact.
During a recent movie night viewing of “Mary Poppins”and the rousing opening number by a militant Mrs. Banks, I was moved to reconsider the word “suffrage” and whether it still defines women in some way.
Despite what the Online Etymology Dictionary tells us about the Old French/Medieval Latin roots of the word, it’s clear to me that suffrage is a mash up of two good old-fashioned words: suffering and rage.
Less than a century ago, our mothers’ mothers demanded equality through the right to vote, aka suffrage. They were aptly called “suffragettes,” compelled to manifest the rage of their suffering through organized protests, civil disobedience, prison hunger strikes, marches and lectures on why women matter just as much as men, even in a man’s world.
This, after polite requests for equality were brushed off by their “better halves” like summer flies from a picnic table spread.
Finally, in 1920, the 19th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution was passed by Congress giving women the right to vote.
Since then, women have grappled with how to settle in to their roles as equal citizens and perpetuators of the human race, while fulfilling their personal, physical and intellectual leanings.
However, all these years later we still struggle to weigh in at no more or less than our male counterparts on the scale of human worth.
Despite the Equal Pay Act of 1963, a working woman still earns 77 cents for every dollar earned by a working man.
“…when hardworking women don’t have the resources, that’s a problem. When businesses lose terrific women talent because they’re fed up with unfair policies, that’s bad for business. They lose out on the contributions that those women could be making. When any of our citizens can’t fulfill their potential for reasons that have nothing to do with their talent or their character or their work ethic, we’re not living up to our founding values.”
Say what you will about the politics of equal pay, but at the heart of it is our continued struggle to contribute to this life in a way that is authentic and fulfilling, without discrimination or unfair treatment based on our anatomical parts.
That we are still making strides toward equality nearly a century after being granted a voice at the voting booth is equal parts heartening and disconcerting.
The hope is that sooner than later our value as equal human beings is not undercut by our gender. The goal is that our daughters’ daughters will look back at our efforts and marvel, not at how far we’ve come, but on how great it feels to have arrived.
There is power in words. I know this from many years in the field as a journalist.
I also know that with a boost from social media, word power morphs and magnifies, and extends to places we can’t predict.
Today, allow me to testify about how one person can make a difference simply by putting thought into words and words into action, through social media, powered by a strong sense that others want and need to connect to make the world a better place.
Here’s how it happened to me:
On February 14, 2014 I read an article on my hometown newspaper’s website about a community screening in Pennsylvania of a documentary about addiction, and hope in long-term recovery.
One influential friend and 10 days later, a date was set for a public screening in New Hampshire.
On April 2, 2014 I was seated among 100+ movie-goers at the Dana Center on the Saint Anselm College campus for a free public screening of the movie, followed by a panel discussion.
Among those in attendance: Students, physicians, policy makers, professors, priests, community organizers, recovering addicts and alcoholics, family members with loved ones currently battling addiction and in desperate need of meaningful treatment options –which are few and far between in New Hampshire.
That was at the heart of bringing this movie to New Hampshire, the need for change.
Missing from the equation: Effective resources focused on recovery from addiction. New Hampshire ranks 49th of the 50 states in recovery programs. The only place harder to find treatment is Texas, according to Cheryl Wilkie, Senior Vice President of the Farnum Center and Webster Place Recovery.
I guess even the drug problems are bigger in Texas.
Some take aways for me from “The Anonymous People:”
Public perception drives policy: Headlines about the daily horrors of addiction and celebrities stuck in or lost to addiction drive our sense of hopelessness.
“This is our black plague” – a quote from actress Kristen Johnston, a recovering addict who is one of the many celebrities telling their success stories.
Lack of systemic support: Those in recovery from cancer are immersed in free post-treatment services “as part of their recovery.” Addicts get five days of detox or 28 days in a rehab bed, if they are among the lucky ones who have insurance or have good timing. After that, they are on their own.
12-Step recovery peer-based programs work: Because they offer immediate support with a proven track record – there are some 23 million people currently living in long-term recovery through participation in Alcoholics Anonymous and Narcotics Anonymous programs.
War on Drugs: A reversal of progress: There was a dedicated push toward recovery during the 1960s and ’70s, “Operation Understanding,” championed by high-profile politicians and actors in recovery, to raise awareness and remove stigma. That momentum was buried under the weight of the orchestrated U.S. “War on Drugs,” chronicled here via “Frontline.”
Mental Health Parity Act of 2008 excludes addiction: We continue to view addiction as a shame-based disease. U.S. insurance companies provide a fraction of resources for what is a paralyzing and pervasive human health crises in America.
Community is the backbone of recovery: For an addict, recovery is initiated in treatment centers. But they recover in our communities – provided there are resources available to support them in their sobriety.
Silence = Death: Borrowed from the early AIDS political advocacy movement and Act Up, actress Kristen Johnston cites “Silence = Death” as the best slogan to describe the urgency of addressing this public health crisis here and now.
Contact your mayor, board of aldermen, town councilors, town administrators, public health officials, state reps, senators and congressmen. Demand that they address the need for treatment and recovery programs and funding. Ask how you can help.
Beyond that, you can reach out to the panelists and experts who supported the April 2 Saint Anselm event, and find out how you can join the conversation and make a difference here in New Hampshire.