National Night Out To Battle Crime, Drugs And Alcohol
News Staff Writer
The Gardner News 7/29/2015
GARDNER Bringing the community together for a night of fun and education, the Gardner Community Action Team will host its third annual National Night Out next Tuesday
“The goal of this event is to heighten crime and substance abuse prevention in the city of Gardner and also promote overall community health,” said coordinator Lauren Saunders. “There is also a focus on police and community partnership and building neighborhood camaraderie.”
Last year, hundreds of people showed up for the event, which focuses on finding fun ways to inform people about different services available to them as well as the dangers of underage drinking and substance abuse prevention.
“Our biggest goal with this event is to introduce people to the awesome resources we have to offer here in our community,” said Ms. Saunders.
“These tables will have lots of educational materials and information to help make our community members more informed,” said Ms. Saunders.
At every table people visit, they will receive a raffle ticket to enter to win bikes, free lift tickets for Wachusett Mountain ski area, a tour of the State House, family fun baskets and gift certificates.
While the messages are serious, organizers are planning many kid-friendly activities to make it fun.
Musician Zach Benton will play at the event, and there will also be face painting, games for the kids with prizes, a bounce house and a fire truck on site to explore.
“It gives the kids something to do and shows them that they can have a good time without using drugs or alcohol,” Ms. Saunders said.
Returning this year will be the local pizza contest, where people can sample dishes from local restaurants and vote for their favorites.
Organizers are also hoping to be able to do their flashlight walk this year, which was canceled at the last minute last year due to a storm.
“We will be combining our flashlight walk with a ... story walk, so as kids and families do the walk they can look for parts of the story and follow along with it as they go,” Ms. Saunders said. “It’s a really great idea as it promotes a healthy behaviors like exercise and reading at the same time and in a fun way.”
The A.E.D. Foundation, Alternatives Inc., the Gardner Police Department, the Gardner Community Action Committee, the District Attorney’s Office, Mount Wachusett Community College, LUK mentoring, the Baby’s Breath Initiative, Healthy Families and Heywood Healthcare are all expected to be there according to Ms. Saunders.