Maureen Palaoro, a Gardiner Middle School health teacher, recently was elected as chair of Oregon City Together, a Drug-Free Community Coalition. The coalition focuses primarily on preventing youth from using marijuana and alcohol, the two substances most prevalent among Oregon City youth.
Palaoro replaces Laura Poore, who served as OCT chair for almost seven years and recently retired from her position as Oregon City's community education supervisor and moved to Lincoln City. The coalition elected Palaoro on June 15.
Palaoro grew up in Oregon City and has worked in the Oregon City School District for 25 years.
"I am excited about what the coalition provides to our community," Palaoro said. "We are a partner that builds relationships, bridges gaps and educates. Our mission is to create a positive community environment where all youth can live up to their full potential."
Palaoro added that Oregon City is not immune to youth substance use. More than 20% of Clackamas County 11th graders taking the anonymous Oregon Healthy Teens survey in 2019 reported using both marijuana and alcohol in the past 30 days.
"Plus, the pandemic has created a new layer of stress and anxiety, which can increase the risk of youth substance use," Palaoro said. "The coalition is needed now more than ever."
OCT, officially organized in 2010, is in its eighth year of a 10-year federal grant of $125,000 annually to combat youth marijuana and alcohol use in Oregon City. The coalition uses evidence-based strategies to increase awareness of the risks of early drug use and educate on protective factors that support healthy choices. This fall, it is hosting the annual Halloween Poster Celebration as well as kicking off a new initiative to increase awareness of teen brain development.
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