HOWELL – Despite being delayed by snowy weather, the Howell Alliance managed to see their recent project through, erecting the first prevention banner in Howell Township this week.
The Howell Alliance’s Prevention Banner Initiative has been in the works since September 2018 and is finally coming to life, according to Howell Alliance Coordinator Christa Riddle.
“Because billboard advertisements are so costly, we thought it would be a cost effective alternative to display our messages on township and school property,” said Riddle.
The initiative aims to spread messages of prevention on various banners posted at locations throughout the township to contribute to the fight against the growing opioid epidemic, in Howell and beyond.
“Our country, state, and county are being devastated by an opioid abuse epidemic, and it is imperative that all Howell community stakeholders – including parents – join forces to drive these numbers down as quickly as we can, before another life is lost unnecessarily,” said Riddle.
According to Riddle, 2018 saw 61 overdoses in just Howell Township. As of February 8, the new year has already seen seven overdoses.
With the banners, the Alliance aims to spread the message of prevention as far and wide as they can.
“We want to provide direct, stark reminders that people’s choices can have positive or negative consequences, and that destructive consequences can be permanent and far-reaching when they involve substance abuse and irresponsible driving,” Riddle told The Howell Times. “We want our community to know what the Howell Alliance is doing to promote substance abuse prevention in Howell and to get involved in our efforts in any way they can.”
Funded by the Alliance, the first completed prevention banner will hang at the Howell Township Municipal Building and Howell High School. Members of the DPW Road Department drew helped to place the aluminum frame on Feb. 5 at the municipal building. The banner and frame design was sketched and constructed by DPW director Paul Novello, and DPW employees Gary Eitel and Dan Haines.
The high school banner will be placed at the end of February. One side will display to traffic, the other will face the senior parking lot; this dual-frame was designed by Tim Carpenter, a technology teacher at HHS.
This first banner focuses on drugged driving, a topic chosen to correlate with a timely issue.
“We chose this topic due to the potential for marijuana legalization,” Riddle explained.
The Alliance will produce a different prevention banner every quarter, each focusing in on a timely topic. Residents can expect to see banners on prom safety, vaping, buzzed driving or texting while driving in the near future.
The initiative was put together by Riddle, Howell Alliance coordinator; Camille Mussari, Howell High School student assistance coordinator (SAC); and Deena Cohen, Alliance member and project director of perinatal opioid education at Central Jersey Family Health Consortium.
Riddle thanked township manager Brian Geoghegan, Deputy Mayor Evelyn Malsbury-O’Donnell, and HHS principal Jeremy Braverman for their support.
“The implementation of our banner project from concept to creation took a team, and the Howell Alliance wants to thank everyone who helped us convey our prevention message. Community-wide dedication and collaboration are critical to our Alliance delivering the effective substance abuse prevention initiatives that can save lives,” Riddle said. “Without cross-department and community support, our efforts would fall flat. Our banners will remind people that each of us has the power to save lives and preserve the safety of the Howell community through our every-day choices and actions.”
Residents can look for a new banner come prom time, although a date has not yet been set.