Over the past year, the Community Coalition for Rhinebeck Youth has met to gather information on the use of drugs and alcohol in our community and discuss early identification and innovative solutions to provide parents and teenagers with the tools they need to make responsible decisions.  Our aim is to reduce the potential harm associated with risky behaviors. Our Group was formed to stimulate collaborative action to promote the health and safety of Rhinebeck youth.

Our Mission Statement

 The Community Coalition for Rhinebeck Youth engages the community in promoting healthy choices and risk avoidance among youth through community awareness, education, support services, and safe recreational options.

Our Progress

A “Community Leadership” event was held as a first step towards calling public attention to the problem of underage drug and alcohol use. More than 35 local Community Leaders came together to review demographic trends and projections, as well as best practices from other nearby communities who have Community Coalitions like ours. We learned from chemical substance counseling professionals working with young people in our community and our neighboring counties, and we heard personal accounts from families who have been affected by this very real threat to the health and safety of our community’s young people.

Through a collaborative process, our local Community Leaders helped us establish three specific goals for our Coalition to work towards achieving. These goals are:

  1. Parent Education
  2. Community Network
  3. Community Dialog

We held a Community Forum in the Church of the Messiah Parish Hall, June 12 to raise awareness of teen alcohol and drug use and to introduce the community to our efforts. Over 90 people attended the event, held early one rainy saturday morning. It was clear our community wants to support the health and welfare of its youth. A financial analyst, two attorneys, and a NYC graphic designer all offered to support our efforts and donate their time.

November 18, 2010 We held a Parent Forum in the Rhinebeck High Shcool and video clips are available under the “Video Presntations” heading. Parents learned about the types of substances available in our area, the nature of addictive substances, how to have an open dialogue with their children about substances, and that the potency of pot has increased dramatically over the past ten years.

March 18, 2011 the Rhinebeck Middle School students participated in Health and Wellness Day. Our Coalition, together with the PTSO, enlisted four professionals from our community to discuss substance use as part of the general focus on making healthy choices. BMS students heard about the dangers of drug, alcohol, and tobacco use from experienced professionals and communicated honestly with experts about substance use and what ‘s going on in their lives.   Young people were guided towards making healthy, informed, and sensible decisions about substance use in a non-confrontational manner that invited dialogue.  Thanks to Dr. Julia Eilenberg, Dr. David Fenner, Eric Benjamin, Beth Imperato, and others who volunteered their time to nourish in our children the skills to choose not to use.  

April 30, 2011 we will work together with the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), Rhinebeck Polie, and Northern Dutchess Hospital  to conduct a prescription drug take back effort. You can drop off unwanted prescriptions for safe disposal. Clean out your medicine cabinets for spring!  10am-2pm, Conference Room 3 (just inside the main lobby entrance to the hospital).

Through a grant we helped obtain from the Dutchess County Youth Bureau and the Council on Addiction Prevention & Education in the spring of 2010, the Rhinebeck High School conducted a survey on the needs, attitudes, and behaviors of students in grades 8, 10, & 12. This information will provide educators with data relative to students’ perceptions of school and community life, as well as their participation in a range of risky behaviors.

We are in the process of forming committees to focus on different areas of this complex topic and we invite you to join us. Thus far we have the following work groups: 1)web 2)school 3)community 4)youth. One conclusion we have reached is that many more people and organizations need to be brought to the table with a sustained commitment if we are to make strides to address this complex issue in the Rhinebeck community.

May 17, 2011, Megan Barbera, LCSW, will facilitate a discussion with ninth and eleventh graders in the Rhinebeck High School, as a follow up to the student survey and respondents observation that there’s not enough to do in our town.  This will be a pilot group, and if successful, the efforts will be expanded to more students.  Students will discuss what activities they enjoy after and outside of school and what other free-time options they’d like to see in Rhinebeck.  Ms. Barbera has worked with Bard students as well as Rhinebeck teens and families dealing with issues of substance use and addiction.  She utilizes a strengths-based approach and encourages clients to explore creative outlets.   

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