The Old Bridge Township Municipal Alliance for the Prevention of Substance Abuse is a volunteer committee, grant-funded by the Governor’s Council on Alcoholism and Drug Abuse, and supported by Old Bridge Township, to provide drug and alcohol prevention programming to students and residents. The programs are offered in the community to help eradicate drug abuse. Volunteers on the committee meet monthly, (and work behind the scenes throughout the year), to brainstorm ideas, plan events, evaluate and implement this programming, providing the best to the community.
Mayor Henry has initialized a mayor’s town forum biannually, with the support of town council, Municipal Alliance, schools, police and PTA, focused on the epidemic of prescription drug abuse. Experts in the field and medical community educate township residents – parents, PTA representatives, dentists, doctors and school board and administrators – just to name a few. Drug resource directories are disseminated, that are supplied by Middlesex County’s Division of Addiction, so the community can band together and help their neighbors. The last forum, “Hidden in Plain Sight,” was presented by a retired drug enforcement officer to outline what may be hidden in a child’s bedroom, to help aid the parents in prevention.
The alliance’s new digital billboard outreach on Route 9 showcases its 24-hour medicine drop box in the town hall building. The billboard also references “The Good Samaritan Law” to inform resident to call 911 if they witness an overdose, with the caller retaining immunity.
The Old Bridge Municipal Alliance’s main focus has always been on at-risk youth and primary prevention, and it sponsors and co-sponsors many programs in conjunction with local schools and the police department. The Two Good for Drugs Program, co-sponsored and taught by the police department, has always been a strong fifth-grade educational tool for students in drug and alcohol education.
Another solid elementary drug prevention program is the “Hooked on Fishing, Not on Drugs” fourth-grade slogan/art contest in which student winners attend a free fishing day with a trained fisherman, on a Saturday in June at Molder’s Fishing Preserve or Cheesequake State Park. The program is solely supported by the school, township, businesses and organizations, and receives yearly donations. It is in its sixth year, thanks to the tireless efforts of the volunteer fishermen who help students gain a valuable resiliency skill that will aid them throughout their lives. The Old Bridge Elks lodge has provided free fishing poles yearly to student winners.
Old Bridge seniors, along with the staff at the township senior center, have helped hundreds of teens through the years with sound advice, through the alliance’s Intergenerational Program offered to high school psychology classes, focusing on healthy aging. Psychology students visit the Old Bridge Senior Center seven times a year to learn hands-on from older adults. A favorite is the Speed Meet and Greet, along with holiday caroling with the mayor and superintendent of schools. The alliance educates both groups on the dangers of prescription drug abuse and medication management with the help of Wellspring Center for Prevention.
The collaboration and support from all entities of Old Bridge Township has made the Old Bridge Municipal Alliance volunteer committee grow yearly with people who care to help and want to be involved in this mission to end drug abuse and support recovery.