Hillsborough Township municipal officials dedicated a portion of an October committee meeting to recognize community efforts aimed to stymie drug abuse.
At an Oct. 22 township meeting, officials announced their support for the National Family Partnership for Drug Free Youth, the District Life Skills Committee and the Hillsborough/Millstone Municipal Alliance’s National Red Ribbon Campaign.
The initiative was celebrated from Oct. 23 through Oct. 31, and was intended to offer citizens the opportunity to demonstrate their commitment to drug-free lifestyles.
In honor of Red Ribbon Week, the program was established to commemorate Enrique “Kiki” Camarena, a U.S. Drug Enforcement Agent who was murdered while investigating an illegal drug gang. A year after the agent’s death, citizens in Camarena’s hometown responded by wearing red ribbons to show their support for the war against illegal drugs. The red ribbon is now a symbol of intolerance towards the use of drugs and the abuse of alcohol.
“We encourage the community to participate in drug prevention activities, making a visible statement that we are strongly committed to a drug-free community,” Hillsborough Township Mayor Frank DelCore said. “We further encourage all citizens to pledge: ‘Send a Message. Stay Drug Free.’”
Municipal officials said that New Jersey has the sixth highest rate of fatal youth drug overdoses in the country. 15% of New Jersey teens admitted to drinking alcohol for the first time before age 13, compared to 19% of teens nationally, according to officials.
39% of teens, ages 12-17, in New Jersey have also admitted to smoking marijuana at least once daily, according to officials. The availability of relatively inexpensive and highly pure heroin in New Jersey has contributed to an increased number of drug-related deaths as well, officials said.
Alongside the municipality’s efforts to raise awareness for drug abuse at the township committee meeting, an annual Hillsborough Red Ribbon Football Game was held on Oct. 4 at Hillsborough High School. The event was attended by Hillsborough Township Deputy Mayor Doug Tomson, Committeeman Shawn Lipani and Committeewoman Olivia Holmes to support the initiative.
“[Red Ribbon Week] is one that we always participate in as a township committee,” DelCore said. “The volunteers in the community the we have here to help all of our youth with this scourge is something that we are all very proud of.”