Like many suburban communities, the Orland Fire Protection District is seeing an increase in heroin use by young people. In response, the OFPD will host a community-wide meeting with parents and their children on July 15 to discuss the problem and solutions parents can use.
OFPD officials said the purpose is not only to educate parents so they can raise awareness of the problem involving their children but to also stimulate a community-wide dialogue to help educate young people about the risks of drugs and especially heroin usage, but also other substance abuse problems including with alcohol.
Celebrities from the Orland Park area including two former Carl Sandburg Graduates who have been drafted by the NFL will join Fire District officials and representatives from the Heroin Epidemic Relief Organization foundation (HERO) and from the Alliance Against Intoxicated Motorists (AAIM).
“This is going to be a very important public meeting to discuss a growing problem that is spreading throughout the South Suburbs at an alarming rate,” said Orland Fire Protection District President James Hickey.
“Heroin isn’t an inner-city problem anymore. We’re seeing more and more cases and we think parents need to know how to deal with it. They can’t bury their heads in the sand.”
Speakers will include Michael Schofield, a Carl Sandburg graduate who was a 2014 3rd Round NFL Draft pick to the Denver Broncos, and Kendal Coyne, a Silver Medalist for the US Women’s Hockey Team. Also participating is Patrick Brucki, a student athlete standout from Sandburg.
“Young people tend to listen more when they have role models their age join the discussion to get young people more engaged,” said OFPD Fire Chief Ken Brucki.
“Schofield, Coyne and my son are all actively engaged in sports athletics and that’s a great connection for our young people.”
Brucki said program speakers include Brian Kirk, a founder of HERO Foundation and Tami Obrien from AAIM.
Battalion Chief Michael Schofield, who is helping to coordinate the project, said the region’s heroin problems have become epidemic.
“Our area recently has seen the reemergence of heroin — but this time around it is more pure and potent than was many years ago. Heroin is a cheap, highly addictive drug and has no clinical or medical use,” Schofield said.
“As the use of this drug increases, so does the impact in our communities. It brings devastation to families, an increase in crime (to fund the addiction), the loss of innocence, a lifelong prison of addiction and, in the most extreme cases, death.”
The program begins promptly at 6 p.m. on Tuesday, July 15 at the OFPD Administration building, 9790 W. 151st Street.
For more information visit the Orland Fire Protection District website at www.OrlandFire.org.