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Friday, April 19, 2024

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Lower Township Kids “Sham-rock and Roll” During Annual St. Patrick’s Day Skating Event

Locals came out to celebrate St. Patrick’s Day with a family-friendly skate night in Cape May.

From Nina Contento for Lower Township Healthy Youth Coalition

Over a dozen families geared up for a St. Patrick’s Day Skate Party organized by Cape Assist and the Lower Township Health Youth Coalition’s (LTHYC).

LTHYC is a Cape Assist initiative focused on educating youth about prevention and mental health. It also challenges community norms around having fun without alcohol or other substances. The Skate Party provided youth and their families with a healthy alternative to celebrating a holiday often associated with excessive drinking.

“St. Patrick’s is such a great holiday in Cape May County, and youth love to get dressed in green and wear the beads and silly hats for school days and community events,” said LTHYC Coordinator Jodi Corbett. “It sounds so easy, yet it’s hard work to show up consistently in these families’ lives by providing them free and healthy activities. So, to me, the special occurrence was and is seeing youth and parents showing up for us time and time again – helping us build lasting relationships.”

The third annual event was held March 14 at the Cape May Convention Hall.

Off the rink, youth and families met with members of the LTHYC, Cape May County Sheriff’s Department, Lower Township Municipal Alliance Committee, City of Cape May Convention Center and Recreation, and Cape Assist.

“Whether prevention or recovery – we know connection is a powerful protective factor against substance misuse and mental health challenges. Each touchpoint, or what I call ‘moments of resonance,’ builds resiliency,” said Corbett. “We string these moments of resonance like St. Patrick’s Day beads, one family and one event at a time, hoping they remember that they belonged to a community that cared about them growing up healthy.”

During the event, organizers ran the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration’s “Talk, They Hear You” messaging during small music breaks to reinforce the drug and alcohol-free experiences with families. Refreshments were provided throughout the night, as well as opportunities for prizes and giveaways like Squishmallows.

“Through events like these, we create lasting memories with our communities. We’re usually looked at as a recovery and prevention organization that provides support and assists with the challenges. This lets us also be seen as members of the community, seeking to foster unity to promote togetherness through fun and engaging activities,” said Cape Assist’s Director and Chief Executive Officer Katie Faldetta. “Community traditions such as a skate night play a vital role in helping our youth develop a sense of belonging with not only their peers, but also the supportive role models in their lives.”

The coalition strives to offer family activities that build positive childhood experiences for the individual and positive community experiences. The St. Patrick’s Skate Party is one of several LTHYC activities focused on healthy, family-focused fun.

This summer, the LTHYC is inviting creative minds to participate in a T-shirt design contest for the upcoming 2024 Lower Township Police Camp. With a focus on capturing the essence of summertime in Cape May County, the organization is searching for designs that also reflect lasting friendships forged between Lower Township police and youth, the fun-filled activities at the Lower Township Police Camp, and the traditions that bring the community together. Go to https://www.lthyc.org/contest additional details on how to get involved, deadlines and prizes.

Cape Assist and the LTHYC seek to partner with local organizations to help organize other interactive and enjoyable occasions. Anyone who wishes to participate in upcoming LTHYC events is encouraged to stay up to date by following the LTHYC Facebook page (https://www.facebook.com/LTHYC). For information on workshops, joining the coalition or LTHYC initiatives, visit www.lthyc.org

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