New Jersey YMCA State Alliance, in collaboration with The Horizon Foundation for New Jersey and Partnership for a Drug-Free New Jersey, is introducing a new initiative designed to encourage and support parents in having meaningful and effective conversations with their children to prevent drug use. Launching November 2017, this effort includes information regarding substance abuse, tools such as a parents guide and conversation starters, as well as resources where families may obtain additional information and counsel. Materials are available at YMCAs throughout New Jersey. The program is intended to use the Night of Conversation, a national drug prevention initiative started by Dr. Mehmet Oz in 2015, as a springboard to encourage meaningful conversations between parents and their children throughout the year.
As a charitable organization, the Y is focused on youth development, healthy living and social responsibility. Supporting parents and the community in their efforts to raise healthy, confident, connected children is core to the Y’s mission to help all people grow in spirit, mind and body.
Early in 2017, the New Jersey Legislature passed a joint resolution that was signed into law, designating a Night of Conversation in November of each year. The purpose of the law is to create awareness about substance use and to help families initiate conversations about drug and alcohol addiction. While the Night of Conversation helps to bring this issue to the forefront of parents’ consciousness, New Jersey YMCA State Alliance, The Horizon Foundation for New Jersey and Partnership for a Drug-Free New Jersey wanted to do more, to not only start the conversation, but sustain it throughout the year.
Conversation is one of the most powerful and effective tools parents can use in preventing substance use and misuse by their children. Research has shown that regular, meaningful conversations between parents and their children help to reduce risky behaviors by children and can ultimately save lives. This is why New Jersey YMCA State Alliance, The Horizon Foundation for New Jersey and Partnership for a Drug-Free New Jersey have collaborated to create strategies for parents as they try to navigate the challenges of tackling difficult topics. Empowering children with the skills and confidence to make healthy choices starts with a simple conversation.
The following material, informed by experts in the fields of pediatrics, childhood development, child psychology and addiction prevention, while not exhaustive, are intended to provide a starting point for parents in beginning to address with their children substance use and misuse. This material should be considered complementary to any support and counsel parents may receive from other trusted sources. As always, parents should consult their healthcare professionals regarding any concerns with their children.