Aug 22, 2019 | By: Malaak Khattab

Wiidookodaadiwag Coalition for Opioid Prevention Hosts First Substance Use Disorder Youth Summit

The Leech Lake Human Services Program hosted the first annual substance use disorder youth summit at the Northern Lights Casino in Walker on Thursday.

Wiidookodaadiwag Coalition for Opioid Prevention started the summit to educate kids on the harms related to substance use, abuse and misuse. The event brought in over 50 kids between the ages of 11 through 17 that live within the Leech Lake reservation boundaries. The aim of the summit is to provide skills, teachings, and awareness.

“The substance abuse out there in our communities, not only on Leech Lake, but throughout our whole country, it plagues our people and hits them very hard. We thought we would put the summit together to help bring that awareness, but most importantly let them know that we certainly care and want them to live,” Gary Charwood, the Cultural Coordinator for Leech Lake Tribal Courts said.

The name of the coalition was gifted by an elder, and it translates to “working together.” Currently, the coalition is doing community assessments for the Leech Lake Band of Ojibwe. Cassandra Tapio, the band’s State Targeted Response Grant Manager, says it’s important to start prevention efforts at a young age because their youth is their future and they need to invest in them.

“Our coalition believes culture is healing and we see the importance of implementing and integrating culture into our services that we provide just for a better outcome,” Tapio said.

Today, August 23, is the last day of the three-day youth summit.

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