- Office of Attorney General Maura Healey
Media Contact for AG Healey Opens Registration for Schools to Join ‘Project Here’ Initiative on Youth Opioid Education
Boston — Attorney General Maura Healey today opened the registration process for Project Here, a $2 million public-private initiative that will provide educational resources to schools to help protect young people from substance use and address the opioid epidemic. Public middle schools in Massachusetts will be able to register on the new Project Here website, launched today.
Project Here, an initiative announced earlier this year by the Attorney General’s Office and the GE Foundation, along with Health Resources in Action, Epicenter Experience and The Herren Project, will make substance use prevention educational resources available to every public middle school in Massachusetts.
Every public middle school that registers will receive a Project Here Toolkit in November. Teachers will have access to both a hard copy and online toolkit, which will provide materials including teacher guides, lesson plans, educational resources, video content, and outreach materials. The toolkit will also provide students the opportunity to connect with a support network staffed by licensed professionals at The Herren Project.
“The opioid epidemic is the most pressing public health issue we are facing today. We are tackling the epidemic from many angles, but we know that to truly end this crisis, we need to stop substance use before it starts,” said AG Healey. “I thank our Project Here partners for helping develop this toolkit, which will give every public middle school in Massachusetts access to critical prevention resources.”
Project Here is dedicated to raising awareness about the risks and consequences of substance use, de-stigmatizing the disease of addiction, and promoting healthy decision-making by making these educational resources available to public middle schools at no cost.
"We’re proud to work with AG Healey on Project Here to educate our youth today and prevent our kids from falling into the vicious cycle of the opioid crisis," said Ann R. Klee, President of GE Foundation. "These resources couldn't come at a better time, bringing the national discussion about the opioid crisis to the classroom to help both teachers and students have open, honest conversations about substance use disorders."
“The Herren Project is proud to be part of the Project Here initiative. Through providing schools within the Commonwealth access to information with a focus on prevention and wellness, we will increase awareness on the risks of substance use and the disease of addiction.” said Chris Herren, founder of The Herren Project. “This is an important first step as we work together to educate our children on the first day of addiction, not the last.”
"Project Here represents an innovative and integrated solution to one of the most critical health issues in Massachusetts," said Paul Krasinski, CEO of Epicenter Experience. "By combining an in-classroom toolkit with a mobile learning experience, middle school students receive important substance use prevention education and are empowered to participate in a positive and interactive mobile environment."
“As a public health organization, we see the toll of substance use disorders on our communities. We also know that prevention works.,” said Jeremy Holman, Vice President at Health Resources in Action. “We’re excited about this opportunity to help youth across the Commonwealth make healthy choices and avoid substance use.”
Project Here is funded by a $1.5 million contribution from the GE Foundation, along with $500,000 in settlement funds from the AG’s Office. In addition to the toolkit launching in mid-November, Project Here is also developing a mobile app, which will serve as a fun educational vehicle for students to learn about substance use and practice healthy decision-making skills. The app will be available to registered schools at a later date.
This initiative is meant to complement other prevention efforts under way across the state.
Project Here is the latest effort by AG Healey to address the unmet need for youth prevention and education services to combat the opioid epidemic, a key priority of her administration. In May, the AG’s Office distributed $700,000 in settlement funding directly to school districts, nonprofits and community organizations to fund prevention programming through its Youth Opioid Prevention Grant Program.
Young people are particularly vulnerable to the risks of substance use. Ninety percent of all adults struggling with addiction started using when they were under the age of 18, and 50 percent were under the age of 15. Studies have shown that effective substance use education and prevention programming can significantly decrease the risk of substance use among young people.