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NEWS from 2012 and Before

Welcome New CAST Community Mobilizer - November 30, 2012
Sandi Syglowski joined Upper Merion Area School District on November 6, 2012 as the new CAST Community Mobilizer. With a Bachelor’s Degree from the University of Pittsburgh and a Master’s Degree in Social Work from the University of Pennsylvania, she has dedicated over 15 years to serving children, youth and families throughout Philadelphia and Montgomery County. Sandi brings years of experience and expertise in many arenas and has a multitude of knowledge with working in the area of Drug and Alcohol Prevention. She is excited to join the Upper Merion Area School District’s Community Alliance for a Safer Tomorrow and is looking forward to serving the community. Sandi can be reached by phone at 610-205-8921 or by email:

FY2012 Drug-Free Communities Support Program Funding Announcement – August 27, 2012 | By Shannon Weatherly
I am pleased to announce the FY2012 Drug-Free Communities (DFC) Support Program grantees. Yesterday, the DFC Staff at the Office of National Drug Control Policy walked the halls of Congress to inform your Senators and Representatives of funding for the next fiscal year. We hope that you have heard from them and are excited about the upcoming year. For FY2012, the DFC Program will continue to provide funding ($76.7 million) for 608 DFC grantees and 18 DFC Mentoring grantees. In addition, we are also funding ($7.9 million) 60 new DFC grants and 6 new DFC Mentoring grants. These grants are throughout the US in 49 States and 4 US Territories/Protectorates. Community Alliance for a Safer Tomorrow (CAST) serving the Upper Merion Area was one of 60 nationwide and the only Pennsylvania coalition to receive a new Drug Free communities grant in fiscal year 2012. Congratulations!

Support Tobacco Free Parks in Upper Merion Area - By PaShawnda Briley
Target: Bridgeport and West Conshohocken Borough Council, Upper Merion Township Council
Bridgeport, West Conshohocken, and Upper Merion Township should adopt ordinances to have all parks and playgrounds tobacco- free because second-hand smoke is harmful to children, cigarette littler pollutes our parks, and children imitate adult behaviors- healthy and unhealthy. The Upper Merion Area Borough Council and Board of Supervisors need to adopt a tobacco- free ordinance that includes consequences for not complying. Currently only the Upper Merion Township has a policy in place prohibiting smoking in parks and playgrounds. The policy has little to no consequence if not adhered to, while Bridgeport and West Conshohocken do not have a tobacco- free policy nor ordinance in place.
Click here to read more.

Apathy About Alcohol Harm is Infecting the Nation! – by Pamela S. Erickson
NEWSLETTER | August 2012 | Campaign for a Healthy Alcohol Marketplace
A top health authority has called excessive alcohol use “a largely unrecognized public health problem.” The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) noted that more than 15 percent of U.S. adults, or 33 million Americans, report binge drinking in the past 30 days.  And, the percentage of adults who binge has not declined for more than 15 years. Alcohol misuse, including binge and underage drinking, is the nation’s third leading cause of preventable death, responsible for more than 79,000 deaths annually and a wide range of health problems. Beyond the human costs, excessive alcohol use also has a tremendous economic cost, with a $185 billion annual price tag in health care and criminal justice expenses and lost productivity, the CDC reported.
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A dangerous high: Officials shed light on synthetic drugs – July 6, 2012 - By Mindy Szkaradnik For The Times Herald
In June 2011, a teenager jumped off of the third floor of the Willow Grove Park Mall Garage. Police said he was allegedly smoking synthetic marijuana before he made the leap that eventually sent him to the hospital for serious injuries.
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Statement by ONDCP Director Kerlikowske on Congress' Passage of the Food and Drug Administration Safety and Innovation Act (S. 3187) – June 26, 2012
The Office of National Drug Control Policy commends Congress for passing the Food and Drug Administration Safety and Innovation Act, S. 3187, which requires 26 synthetic chemicals, including those commonly found in products marketed as "K2" and "Spice," to be considered Schedule I substances. Schedule I substances are those with a high potential for abuse; have no medical use in treatment in the United States; and lack an accepted safety for use of the drug.
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New Research Supports Alcohol-Control States – CADCA, June 14, 2012
A new Keystone Research Center report has found that states with more control of the sale and distribution of alcohol have fewer alcohol-related traffic fatalities than states with no such controls, according to Alcohol Justice.

The new analysis showed that with all else equal, a state with control characteristics like Pennsylvania has 58 fewer adult deaths per year from alcohol-related traffic accidents than it would if the state had no control over the distribution of alcohol. The findings reinforce the recent Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Community Preventive Services Task Force recommendations against the privatization of alcohol sales, and are particularly relevant in Pennsylvania given recent moves to privatize there.
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Preventing Excessive Alcohol Consumption
Excessive alcohol consumption is the third leading cause of preventable death in the United States and is a risk factor for many health and societal problems. In 2006, the estimated economic cost of excessive drinking in the U. S. was $223.5 billion (Bouchery et al 2011). Approximately 5% of the total population drinks heavily and 15% of the population engages in binge drinking (CDC).
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First Lady Encourages Parents to Talk to Kids about Underage Drinking – Gant Team,, April 23, 2012
GLEN MILLS - Parents have the power to stop underage drinking by talking with their children, Pennsylvania First Lady Susan Corbett said recently at Garnet Valley High School in Delaware County.
The First Lady attended the Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD) “Power of Parents” workshop to urge parents to talk with their children about the dangers of underage drinking. Today’s event coincides with Garnet Valley High School’s Junior Prom.
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School Bus Contractor First Student Represented at White House Screening of 'Bully' MovieRyan Gray, School Transportation News, April 25, 2012
Two First Student executives represented the nation's largest school bus contractor during a special event at the White House that called further attention to student bullying.
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A troubling trend in teens drinking hand sanitizer – Anna Gorman, LA Times, April 24, 2012
Medical experts warn parents to watch for danger signs of young people getting drunk on the over-the-counter cleansers, which have a high percentage of ethyl alcohol.
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A Drug Policy for the 21st Century
WASHINGTON, DC - Illegal drugs  not only harm a user's mind and body, they devastate families, communities, and neighborhoods. They jeopardize public safety, prevent too many Americans from reaching their full potential, and place obstacles in the way of raising a healthy generation of young people.
To address these challenges, today we are releasing the 2012 National Drug Control Strategy - the Obama Administration's primary policy blueprint for reducing drug use and its consequences in America.
Click here to read more.

Alcohol and Drugs The Organ and Child Killer – Bob Aronson, April 4, 2012
Alcoholism and drug abuse have haunted my family for years.  I’ve been in recovery for just about 30 years but I’m not alone in my family.  Anonymity disallows further disclosure but trust me, I know about addiction first hand and even as I write this another family member is suffering and causing suffering.  I hate the disease with every fiber in my body and I know how hard it is to fight it.
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Middle School Students Make and Donate Baby Blankets to Bryn Mawr Hospital NICU
BRYN MAWR, PA - PaShawnda Briley, community mobilizer for the Community Alliance for a Safer Tomorrow (CAST) club at Upper Merion Area Middle School, visited Bryn Mawr Hospital’s NICU to donate “tummy time” blankets made by her students.
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CAST Club Goes Beyond the ClassroomKing of Prussia Courier
The Community Alliance for a Safer Tomorrow (CAST) Club of Upper Merion Area Middle School has worked diligently since January 2012 on a self-inspired community-service project. The students decided as a group to make colorful fleece blankets for the babies in the neonatal intensive-care unit of Bryn Mawr Hospital.
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New Guidelines Set for Disposing MedicationsThe Luminary
As the New Year unfolds and healthy resolutions are made, the American Pharmacists Association (APhA) is encouraging Americans to clean out their medicine cabinets. Pharmacists recommend patients clean out their medicine cabinets once a year to dispose of all the unused and expired medications that have accumulated over the past year. They advise to make it a yearly tradition to help keep everyone safe and healthy.
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New Law Haunts Schools Local City Officials Charge: Marijuana Law is Taking Toll on Teens at Revere HighBy Seth Daniel Revere Journal
REVERE MASSACHUSETTS – The Pennsylvania State Senate has unanimously passed legislation Monday afternoon sponsored by Senator John Rafferty (R-Montgomery) that would provide immunity from prosecution for minors if they call 911 to help an intoxicated friend in an emergency situation.
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Binge Drinking. Nationwide Problem, Local Solutions. – CDC Vital Signs
New estimates show that binge drinking* is a bigger problem than previously thought. More than 38 million US adults binge drink, about 4 times a month, and the largest number of drinks per binge is on average 8. This behavior greatly increases the chances of getting hurt or hurting others due to car crashes, violence, and suicide. Drinking too much, including binge drinking, causes 80,000 deaths in the US each year and in 2006 cost the economy $223.5 billion. Binge drinking is a problem in all states, even in states with fewer binge drinkers, because they are binging more often and in larger amounts.
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Vital Signs: Binge Drinking Prevalence, Frequency, and Intensity Among Adults — United States, 2010 - CDC Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report
ABSTRACT: Background: Binge drinking accounts for more than half of the estimated 80,000 average annual deaths and three quarters of $223.5 billion in economic costs resulting from excessive alcohol consumption in the United States.
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Binge drinking is bigger problem than previously thought – U. S. adults binge drink more frequently and consume more drinks when they do – CDC Press Release
More than 38 million U.S. adults binge drink an average of four times a month, or almost once a week, with some consuming as much as eight drinks per binge according to a new Vital Signs report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. While binge drinking is more common among young adults ages 18-34, of those age 65 and older who report binge drinking, they do so more often − an average of five to six times a month.
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Cyberbaiting on the Rise as Teacher Tantrums Posted to YouTube
Do a quick search on YouTube and find dozens of videos of teachers "flipping out" to the jeering laughter of students -- a music teacher smashes a violin, another spits on a student in full classroom meltdown.
In this form of bullying, known as cyberbaiting, students provoke the teacher to the breaking point, then secretly record the tantrum on a cell phone, then post it online. Not only is it humiliating, demolishing a teacher's morale, but it can cost them their job.
Click here to read more.

The Argument Against Marijuana'
Howard Meitiner, President and CEO, Phoenix House — In his recent New York Times "Invitation to Dialogue," David Evans's position on medical marijuana is absolutely sound. Marijuana is an addictive drug and should be subject to the same scientific approval process as any other medicine.
First, we must remember that marijuana wreaks havoc on our youth. At Phoenix House, the drug is a problem for nearly all the teens we treat; about 76 percent of our adolescent admissions list marijuana as their primary drug of choice.
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Fighting at Upper Merion High School a 'minor problem'
UPPER MERION — Fighting at Upper Merion Area High School (UMAHS) is a "minor problem" for school administrators in the district. They respond to fighting with educational programming, a special program for drugs and safe schools funded by an outside grant and out-of-school suspensions that range from three to 10 days.
Upper Merion police frequently add citations for disorderly conduct that generate juvenile sentences for community service.
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Senate Unanimously Passes Rafferty Bill Promoting Good Samaritan Behaviour
HARRISBURG – The Pennsylvania State Senate has unanimously passed legislation Monday afternoon sponsored by Senator John Rafferty (R-Montgomery) that would provide immunity from prosecution for minors if they call 911 to help an intoxicated friend in an emergency situation.
Click here to read more.

Family Fun Night In a Success
UPPER MERION – Bridgeport Elementary School Newsletter. The PTC and CAST hosted a successful Family Night In on Friday, October 21st. Everyone who came out was able to enjoy an exciting night of games, dancing, crafts, stories, great food and other family fun. All those who attended got to rotate through the different stations throughout the night and make family crests, dance to Cotton-Eyed Joe, play Candy Land, and hear teachers read stories like Llama, Llama Red Pajama.
Click here to read newsletter.

Upper Merion supervisors weigh plans for community center, three possible sites discussed By Jenny DeHuff | The Times Herald
UPPER MERION – Three very different sites were considered for the development of a brand new community center within the township, during Thursday night’s board of supervisors workshop meeting.

With the township building already at maximum capacity, housing the library, police department and public meeting rooms, supervisors heard a presentation by Ballard King & Associates, a Denver, Colo.-based firm specializing in recreational planning.
Click here to read full article.

How to Welcome 100 Teenagers Into Your Home Without Reducing it to Rubble
Letter to the Editor, The Suburban and Wayne Times - By Tom Hagy, Radnor

When my daughter asked if she could have some friends over for her 15th birthday, I was tired from work and glad that my daughter had friends. Adults and teens often have different definitions of terms. In this case the disparity centered on the word “some.” To me it meant “several,” a “few,” 12 or 15. To her it meant Woodstock. To her, some people went to The Million Man March.
Click here to read full article.

How to Discuss Alcohol Use with Teens
Updated: Wednesday, 21 Jul 2010, 9:08 AM EDT
Published : Wednesday, 21 Jul 2010, 9:08 AM EDT

New research shows that parents' behavior may unintentionally contribute to teenage alcohol abuse. The study was commissioned by The Caron Treatment Centers and Harris Interactive. Janice Styer is the Clinical Supervisor and addiction counselor with Caron.

Styer explained "I think parents have good intentions. However, they feel that their job is to teach no matter what that is, even if it's to teach their kids how to drink responsibly. And there is no such thing for an adolescent." Styer pointed out teenage brains are "in motion all the time and they can't tolerate that responsibility."
Click here to read full article.

UMA Smoking BanBreaking the Monopoly? Liquor Privitization Bill in the State House
Harrisburg - Pennsylvania and Utah are the only two states that completely control both wholesale and retail sales of wine and spirits.

But if state House Majority Leader Mike Turzai, R-28th District, Allegheny County, gets enough support for his House Bill 11, that will change. The bill calls for privatization of wine and liquor sales, which have been overseen solely by the Pennsylvania Liquor Control Board since Prohibition was repealed in 1933.
Click here to read full article.

Patrol officers to target underage partiers
Upper Merion - With prom season just around the corner, Upper Merion Township Police Department is launching an initiative that will target underage drinking and drug use.

Dubbed the the “Party Patrols,” the enforcement effort will supplement existing patrol squads between April and September and is being paid for by a grant through Community Alliance for a Safer Tomorrow (CAST), a school-based organization focused on reducing risk factors for substance abuse and violence among township youth.
Click here to read full article.

Marvel digital comic book addresses mental health!
The all-new, 11-page story written by psychologist Tim Ursiny features a despondent young man contemplating suicide by jumping off a building. After helping Captain America defeat villains battling on a nearby roof, the youth returns to his apartment and calls the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline, uttering the only dialogue of the comic: "I need help." Click here to view the comic book.

Alcohol is the number one drug of choice in the Upper Merion Area.
New evidence shows that parental style has a lot to do with a minor's decision to drink alcohol. The following article appeared in CADCA Coalitions Online, January 6, 2011, regarding a connection between the level of parental permissiveness and teen drinking. Click here to read the full article.

Cig PosterKid- friendly gum or smokeless tobacco?
Tobacco giant R.J. Reynolds quietly announced their intent to pull the Camel Dissolvables line of smokeless tobacco products from current tests markets: Columbus, OH, Indianapolis, IN and Portland, OR.

Customers received word about the product removal through a letter sent from R.J. Reynolds. At the same time, customers were reminded of the many other smokeless tobacco products available and were invited to use the included coupon to try them at a discounted price. Click here to read more.

K-2 "The Synthetic Marijuana" There is a new drug making its way into the hands of teens all over the U.S. The drug known as "K-2" is a synthetic chemical similar to Tetrahydrocannabinol (THC). The effects of the drug are similar to speed and can cause the user an even greater impairment than marijuana. The use of this new drug has lead to many accidents, and across the Midwest several states are outlawing the manufacture and selling of this drug. This new drug is dangerous and until it is federally banned will continue to be exploited by teens across America. All of the dangers and effects of this new drug are not completely known which makes it an issue that needs to be addressed immediately. The police and lawmakers need to be informed of this new drug so laws can be put into place to keep our teens safe. Click here for more information. Click here for additional information.

What exactly is SLOMming?
S.L.O.M. stands for "Sticking Leeches On Myself", this ridiculous trend came about from an advertisement by the organization "Above the Influence". The purpose of this advertisement was to show the act of engaging in an activity without thinking in order to "do what everyone else is doing" even if it is something as grotesque as sticking leeches over your body. In addition, the image of leeches (or parasites) literally "suck the life" out of you as do drugs. The advertisement is a powerful statement teaching us to stand up against peer pressure. Surprisingly enough, some kids and teens have tried this in reality and have found no "high" as a result, however, extensive SLOMming can result in fatigue.
Click here for more information.

Legalizing Marijuana in New Jersey In spite of the abundant studies highlighting the risks of legalizing marijuana, the New Jersey Legislature recently voted to legalize medical marijuana. According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, this will only lead to an increase in marijuana abuse in teenagers. One state in particular, California, has in fact legalized medical marijuana and is now suffering the consequences with an increase in robberies and drug abuse surrounding medical marijuana stores or "pot shops". Click here for more information.

Teens and Prescription Drugs Teens in recent years have been turning away from street drugs and instead using prescription drugs to get high. Prescription drug use is now second in line to marijuana as the most common illegal drugs teens are using. Although teens think that they are medically in the clear because it was "prescribed" it still causes an equal or even more severe threat when the drugs are abused comparatively to street drugs such as heroin or marijuana.

12 Signs you or a friend may be struggling with a mental illness
Activeminds is an organization that actively seeks to educate and inform individuals about mental health. As part of their effort they have put together a list that tells teens what to look for and how they can tell if they or a friend needs to seek help. It includes 12 different signs and symptoms they can look for and be aware of. Also included are some warning signs of suicide and tips on how to help a friend that may be experiencing these signs. It is an excellent guide to explaining what mental illness can look like and what you role you can play in helping.
Click here for more information.

National Institute of Health's Monitoring the Future Survey. The National Institute on Drug Abuse and the University of Michigan released the findings from the 2009 Monitoring the Future Survey. The survey showed that while there were decreases in the use of cocaine, methamphetamine and LSD among youth, marijuana and prescription drug abuse showed no signs of slowing down. This toolkit includes tools that coalitions can use to obtain local media coverage of these findings, such as talking points, a news summary of the findings and a news release template." It's from the CADCA website View NIH Highlights. View NIH Fact Sheets.

Red Ribbon Week 2009 To read the article from The King of Prissia Courier about Red Ribbon Week. Click here.

Media Advisory Upper Merion Students participated in the “Act Out Loud: Raising Voices for Safe Teen Driving” Contest. View PSA 1, View PSA 2.

Youth in Prevention Community Alliance for a Safer Tomorrow was chosen as a participant in the 100 Pioneers for Smoking Cessation Virtual Leadership Academy offered by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services! As one of the 100 Pioneers nationwide, CAST will conduct a smoking cessation project to help reduce tobacco use in the Upper Merion Area. It is an honor to be chosen to help reduce the single most preventable cause of death in the United States. Click here for more information about smoking cessation initiatives.

Congratulations to the Upper Merion Area Middle School CAST/ SADD club! Congratulations to all the students who participated in creating an informative and creative public service announcement on preventing alcohol use. The public service announcement was submitted to the “Sound Off ” PSA Contest sponsored by the Pennsylvania National Guard Counterdrug Program and Drug Free Pennsylvania and each student received an official certificate of appreciation for their participation. Every effort to reduce substance abuse and violence counts!

Latest Press Release:

The Community Alliance for a Safer Tomorrow to attend National Substance Abuse Prevention Conference
Washington D.C, February 2, 2011 - Health advocates from the Upper Merion Area are headed to Washington, D.C. Feb. 7th to join nearly 3,000 substance abuse prevention and treatment specialists and advocates from throughout the country for Community Anti-Drug Coalitions of America's (CADCA) 21st annual National Leadership Forum.

FDA Center for Tobacco Products issues a new rule
Washington D.C, March 18, 2010 - On March 18, 2010, the FDA Center for Tobacco Products issued a new rule to protect kids from tobacco addiction and premature death from tobacco use. The new rule becomes effective June 22, 2010 and prohibits the sale, distribution, and marketing of cigarettes and smokeless tobacco to youth, including: Sale and Distribution Regulations.

A Message from the Principal
KING OF PRUSSIA, PA, February 10, 2010 - The Upper Merion Area's local anti- drug and anti- violence coalition, Community Alliance for a Safer Tomorrow, conducted its first scholarship essay contest in conjunction with the District Attorney's Office of Montgomery County from mid- November until the end of December 2009. There were over forty essays submitted between the juniors and seniors seeking help for their college application fees and first semester books.

CAST Seminar - “Minding Your Mind” Public Education Program
KING OF PRUSSIA, PA, November 23, 2009 - Ross Szabo is handsome, charismatic and popular. “I was captain of the high school basketball team, invited to all of the parties and had a lot of friends. What people didn’t know is that I cried when I was alone, drank until I passed out and wanted to kill myself.”
Read more..

New Community Coalition Strives to Decrease and Prevent Substance Abuse and Violence Among Youth in the Upper Merion Area
KING OF PRUSSIA, PA, May 19, 2008 - Thanks to a recent grant, the Upper Merion Area School District has launched a new community coalition that offers prevention and interventionprograms that decrease and prevent substance abuse and violence.

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Recent Events:

Crash Demonstration
The crash demonstration was held on May 15, 2008, the day before the Junior prom, at the Upper Merion Area High School.

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Related Articles:

Communities That Care: A Comprehensive Prevention Program: Promising Approaches
Communities That Care (CTC) is a comprehensive, research-based community mobilization and planning organization that helps communities mobilize schools, families, local agencies and organizations, the media, and young people themselves to collaborate in the creating of a safe, supportive...
Read more…


© 2021
This website was developed,  in part, under a grant number SP 14395-07 from the Office of National Drug Control Policy and Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. The views, policies, and opinions expressed are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect those of ONDCP, SAMHSA or HHS.