VOICE & Allies Call for Action on Youth Overdose Crisis

Over 260 VOICE leaders, students, parents, and allies crowded into the Kenmore Middle School cafeteria last night and secured strong commitments from County Board members Takis Karantonis and Maureen Coffey to advocate for the inclusion of $2M in Arlington’s FY 2025 budget for high-quality free or low-cost after-school programming. They also pledged to participate in VOICE listening sessions with middle and high schoolers and to reconvene with VOICE leaders within 4 weeks to discuss the next steps. These commitments are crucial to ensuring the permanence and increased accessibility of such programming for students. VOICE also obtained commitments from School Board members Mary Kadera and Bethany Sutton to support after-school programs in the future. The assembly has already garnered attention from multiple press outlets covering this action (Fox5, WJLA).

As Rev. Alice Tewell explains, “Experience has shown that engaging in structured activities and having the opportunity to form relationships with trusted adults are mitigating factors for drug use and other harmful coping mechanisms among at-risk students.”

Marina Cura, a high schooler who has struggled with mental health challenges, and Luz Rodriguez, one of the mothers who lost her child to overdose last year, both bravely shared their stories and called for action. As Ms. Rodriguez said: “Please listen. My son’s life mattered. I want his death to matter, too. Together we can help prevent future deaths. Please act now, for all the other mothers and sons, fathers and daughters in our community.”

VOICE will continue to take action and follow up on these significant commitments we were able to achieve together.

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