RCMP hosts drug conference in Stratford
The Drug Endangered Children Conference was held in Stratford on Tuesday, hoping to educate the community on the national program.
The issue has been a focus of the RCMP for nearly ten years, and the conference focuses how to help children, who can suffer long-term effects from drugs entering a community.
Ian Sanderson, a retired staff sergeant with the RCMP, says "We need to realize that there are impacts beyond organized crime bringing drugs into our community, or where homes get dysfunctional as a result of drug abuse and how it affects children and what the long-term effects are."
Stratford Mayor Dan Mathieson was a big reason the conference was held in the city. He was a driving force in establishing the Perth County Task Force on Crystal Meth.
The conference aims to educate community partners, and get them working together to deal with the issue.
Kiti Freier Randall is a pediatric neurodevelopmental psychologist. She says "If we work together as a community to improve their environments, we can change their trajectories."
Randall has worked with drug endangered children for over 20 years and says the hardest part for her is "when the community hasn't cared to do something about it. When children have been obvious in a community crying for help and we did nothing."
RCMP Cpl. Heather Dickinson is the Drug Endangered Child (DEC) coordinator for Ontario. She says events like the conference are crucial to developing local programs.
"Coming together and sharing our experiences so that we can learn and move forward to ensure that children that find themselves in these negative environments can move forward and have a positive trajectory."
In other words, helping children establish healthier and safer lives, free of the crime that surrounds them.
Because as Sanderson says, "It's about our future, it's about the kids."