The Athlone Drug Awareness Group celebrated its 21st anniversary last week by organising an event as part of the annual Midlands Regional Drug and Alcohol Taskforce’s Drug Awareness week.
Speaking at the event, ADA chairman, Cllr Frankie Keena (FF ) recalled a conversation he had with committee member Jim Henson 21 years ago about the need to set up a Drug Awareness Group in the town to bring the problem of drug abuse in the area to light.
Cllr Keena recalled how, at the time, Athlone’s drug problem was an unpopular topic of conversation. “Our philosophy was that it is wrong to sweep the problem under the carpet and pretend it is not a problem,” he said. Thanks to support from Gardaí and addiction counselors, he noted that the group has since grown from strength to strength and it is now recognised as the primary drug awareness source in the area.
Cllr Keena thanked the transition year students from Our Lady’s Bower secondary school who designed the group’s logo back in 1997. as well as all of the schools, clubs, and volunteers in the area who have helped out throughout the years.
He pointed out that the drug issue is still a big problem, with various new types of drugs on the market.
“We are now faced with the problems of intimidation, drug dealers and crime all associated with drug taking,” he stated.
Speaking at the event were Sgt Andrew Haran, Mayor Aengus O’Rourke, Noel Casey, Jim Henson, Robbie Henshaw, Antoinette Kinsella, Carla McManus (International Ladies Soccer, Our Lady’s Bower Secondary School ) and Sean Conway (musical stage and drama, Athlone Community College ). Both the students spoke about their positive experiences in life through soccer and musicals and their love for their respective careers.
The group was absolutely delighted with the presence of Robbie Henshaw at the event especially considering that he was in the middle of a very competitive series of international games.
“Robbie is a fantastic role model for our younger generation and to have him attend and speak at our 21st anniversary event was fantastic,” Cllr Keena said.