ACAP, community partners educate people on prevention strategies

4 years ago

PRESQUE ISLE, Maine — The Aroostook County Action Program, along with several local and statewide partners, hosted a carnival Thursday, Aug. 1, aimed at teaching people about lifestyle habits that can prevent a number of health issues, including drug addiction.

Dozens of community members gathered at the parking lot of ACAP’s Presque Isle office, visiting various tables staffed by ACAP employees and representatives from the Hope and Justice Project. Tables were dedicated to health topics specifically related to prevention, such as dental hygiene, physical activity, the harmful effects of drugs and alcohol and lead poisoning.

The United Way of Aroostook also opened its 2nd Chances Kids Community Closet inside the ACAP building, which provides free back-to-school clothing, backpacks and supplies for children. Goughan’s Farm was on hand to give free bags of produce to the first 200 people who turned in punch cards from all their visits to the prevention booths.

ACAP community educator Dawn Roberts said that ACAP worked in conjunction with the Prescription (Rx) Abuse Leadership Initiative of Maine, RALI-ME, an alliance of state organizations that support prevention and recovery programs for people facing opioid addiction.

Drug prevention in particular has become a major focus of health conversations nationwide and in the state. The latest statewide data revealed earlier this year that 354 Mainers died as a result of drug overdoses in 2018, a 15 percent decline from 417 the year before.

“The idea for the carnival came from wanting to let people know what prevention services we provide,” Roberts said.

ACAP operates eight prevention programs, including 5-2-1-0 Let’s Go, Outcomes For Youth and Drug Free Aroostook.

Many of the carnival tables provided people with fun games related to prevention topics. Chris Haskell, Drug Free Aroostook project coordinator, let youth try out the famous “foggy goggles” that imitate the blurred vision associated with high alcohol and drug consumption. 

Nine-year-old Ella Bingiel tried unsuccessfully several times to catch the ball that Haskell threw her way, thanks to the goggles.

“It was a lot harder with the goggles on,” Bingiel said.

Barbara Bishop of Presque Isle also attended the prevention carnival in hopes of learning more about the topics that the ACAP staff members presented.

“I think something like this will help out a lot of people,” Bishop said.