I would like to take this opportunity to thank the North Middlesex Booster Club for its generosity in sponsoring Chris Herren to come and speak at both Hawthorne Brook and Nissitissit middle schools.

For a speaker to be able to hold the attention of an auditorium full of seventh- and eighth- graders is quite a feat, and Chris Herren was able to do it.

Never before has a middle school assembly been as important and impactful as this one was. His message to the kids is to be confident in who you are and not to feel you have to change yourself through the use of drugs and alcohol.

To hear a young child, about the age of 13, speak up and ask "who do I talk to if I think my friend is addicted" is heartbreaking, to say the least. As Mr. Herren said, "no child should have to carry this burden on his shoulders."

I hope this encourages all parents, grandparents, educators and community members to get educated on this epidemic of drug abuse, which is wreaking havoc on our children.

Are many of us aware that there is an addiction treatment center in Brockton specifically for 13-17 year-olds (castlekids.org)? Or that there are at least three recovery high schools in our state?

This problem is not just in the cities; it is right in our backyard. Through the efforts of Therese LaRose, there is now a group in the North Middlesex community whose mission it is to promote education and awareness of prescription drug abuse.

The group is North Middlesex Community Cares and the next meeting is March 25, 6 p.m., at Lawrence Library in Pepperell. Anyone who is interested in helping this effort, has a story to tell or needs more information on this subject is encouraged to join us.

We must join together as a community, remove the stigma and help each other.

Once again, thank you to Chris Herren for his inspiration, and to the NM Boosters for stepping up and getting the conversation started.

MARY MORGAN

Pepperell