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Latino Advisory Council focuses on drugs, other teen health concerns

The Latino Advisory council met Sept. 20 to discuss the health of teenagers in Hood River, new apartments at the site of Morrison Park, and a change of name for a national holiday.

This council was started by Mayor Paul Blackburn to discusses various events, issues, and projects affecting the Latino population of the Hood River valley. Anyone is welcome to attend meetings which are held in a mixture of English and Spanish, and held every few months.

During Tuesday’s meeting, the council discussed a drug and alcohol education coalition headed up by Luz Oropeza of the County Prevention Department. This coalition, funded by a five-year grant from the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, will work to bring more drug and alcohol prevention and education to students and their families.

Oropeza reports that tobacco use among teenagers has been decreasing in the last few years, but alcohol and marijuana usages remains high. She says that “it’s a challenge, because marijuana is more accepted,” due to its recent legalization.

Oropeza has partnered with the HRVHS Health Media club to help raise awareness of the damaging effects of substance abuse among teenagers.

Nate Parson, Hood River Valley High School vice-principal, announced the addition of a new youth outreach worker at the high school through the Next Door. This volunteer worker will be available to council students and their families through the high school.

Parson also said that the student Health Center, located on campus at the high school, is beginning its second full year. The health center offers a variety of services for students, including sports physicals, immunizations, and Sexually Transmitted Infection (STI) screenings.

The clinic is open on weekdays, and students are encouraged to visit it for their health needs such as medication dispensing, or acute injury treatment. The clinic also serves as a source of information and treatment of concussions. Center administrators are also writing policies to provide birth control later in the school-year.

Among other topics, the council discussed the rezoning of Morrison Park to a residential zone. This would allow for the building of new low-income apartments through the Mid-Columbia Housing Authority.

The Latino Advisory Council agreed that the town needs more apartments to accommodate the growing working class, and that the central location of Morrison Park, near many businesses, would be appreciated.

The City of Hood River will change Columbus Day to Indigenous Peoples’ Day, according to Blackburn. The city will host a party to celebrate this day on Oct 10 at 5 p.m., at the Overlook Memorial Park on State Street. Members of local Native American tribes will be invited, and there will be refreshments and festivities for all.

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