The Coalition News: 
Issue 5
January 2017
2016:  A Year in Review
2016 was a year of many changes for The Charlestown Coalition and our youth group, Turn it Around. For starters, we changed our name and started this newsletter! Here is a brief recap of some other 2016 highlights!

  • In May, we completed another year of 02129 Friday lunches, where we serve lunch to Charlestown High School students who live in Charlestown. We also bring in guest speakers from a wide range of youth serving organizations to these meetings. Another year of lunches is currently underway!
  • In partnership with the Gavin Foundation, we co-facilitated a treatment and education group at Charlestown High School for students identified by teachers and student support for concerns about substance use in school.
  • Turn it Around has expanded exponentially and now has over 40 members between the ages of 14 and 20 meeting weekly and attending community and group events. In June, the youth planned and ran the Coalition's 8th Annual Take Back Day where residents were able to safely dispose of leftover prescription drugs. They also organized and ran our 3rd Annual Turn it Around Basketball Tournament where 75 youth from all parts of the community participated in a full day of 3-on-3 basketball games. Some of the youth also participated in a multi-week art project along with other community members, in partnership with the Stove Factory (learn more about the project here). They also organized a Resource Fair and BBQ for Edwards Middle School students!
  • In 2017, we hope to engage more parents, through both Turn it Around and the community in general. In 2016 we did a series of Hidden in Plain Sight workshops for parents to learn about common signs of substance use in their children. One of these workshops was part of a larger session on substance use that we facilitated for the Charlestown Mothers Association. 

  • On the prevention side, last year we taught a joint LifeSkills/MGH Stay in Shape substance use prevention and healthy living curriculum to 5th, 6th, and 8th grade students at the Harvard Kent, Warren Prescott, and Edwards Schools. We also hosted a series of speakers and provided lessons in honor of National Substance Use Disorder Prevention Month at the Edwards.
  • In September we held our annual Overdose Vigil in honor of the lives of loved ones and community members lost to substance use disorders. In October we celebrated four individuals completing Charlestown Drug Court and taking steps towards life in recovery. 
  • We were excited to receive one year grant funding (starting in July) from the Boston Alliance for Community Health (BACH) to form the Trauma Response Group, a group of "natural responders" who work with youth in the community. Starting in July, this group has met monthly with mental health clinicians from the Health Center to process some of the traumatic situations they have experienced, and enhance their trauma response skills. The group is also seeking to better address the race-based conflict and divisions that persist in Charlestown.

Purchase Your
Turn it Around Calendar!
Looking for the perfect way to keep track of your busy schedule in 2017?  Buy a Turn Around calendar!  Turn it Around members have created a calendar of photos and health tips for sale this holiday season! To buy yours, contact Olivia Larkin at or 617-726-6684. Calendars are $25!

Voices of Recovery:
Meet Dave

Straight Outta Charlestown:
 Turn it Around Youth of the Month!
E very month, we feature a Turn it Around member who has showed a huge commitment to the group. For the month of January, we are excited to honor one member who has been open, engaged, and helpful at both meetings and events. 
Congrats,  Wellington!

My name is Wellington Melo and I joined Turn It Around last year. I grew up in Charlestown my whole life. When I was younger, I was a troubled kid and caught criminal records. I was one of the kids selling drugs to make money to survive and I saw firsthand how the drugs were affecting people, but I was a kid and only worried about the money. 

Now that I am a little more grown up and have positive people in my life to steer me in the right direction, I can look back and see how the se people are actually suffering. Many people that are using are homeless, sick, starving, and even dying. 

I joined Turn it Around to better my knowledge about the big issue and be able to give back to the community that I was hurting. Turn it Around has opened my eyes to a better future and is giving me great opportunities. 

Getting connected to the Turn It Around program also opened opportunities for me such as staying off the streets and giving  me something positive to look up to, instead of paying mind to gang activity and run-ins with the laws. 
Wellington was one of the stars of our 2017 calendar!

T his group can be a good im pact in the future, giving me experience on how to work with the community and also to help keep kids on the positive path.

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Charlestown Coalition, MGH Center for Community Health Improvement  | 617-726-6684  |
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