ADAPT enhances drug education in Chicopee

3/9/2017 | Chris Maza

Category: March

For the first time since the D.A.R.E. program, the city of Chicopee has a comprehensive program for drug abuse education and prevention.

The Health Department’s Alcohol & Drug Awareness Prevention Team (ADAPT) has spent the better part of the last year growing and developing an inclusive initiative aimed at stemming problems with drugs and alcohol in the community before they start.

“ADAPT is about primary prevention,” explained Lisa Steinbock, public health nurse for the city of Chicopee and director of ADAPT. “We want to be in the schools teaching kids that there is an alternative and teaching them what can happen if you do decide to use alcohol or drugs and the repercussions for that.”

In February 2016, shortly after joining the city as its public health nurse, Steinbock was directed by Mayor Richard Kos, the Board of Health and Health Director Lisa Sanders to develop a plan to better serve the public regarding the subject.

“The D.A.R.E. program had phased out; it wasn’t funded anymore and the public schools have parts of their health curriculum where they touch on this, but that was really all there was in place without anyone to take over or plan any kind of distinct program,” Steinbock said.

She began meeting with Karen Turmel, the director of Nursing for Chicopee Public Schools, and began hashing out a plan. Luckily, Steinbock said, the city was already a part of a coalition through the Springfield Department of Health and Human Services that helped them with the resources to get the program running.

On Sept. 22, 2016, ADAPT kicked into high gear with its first public event at which it hosted 150 members of the public to hear their thoughts on what the program’s priorities should be.

“We wanted to know what the community wanted – What kind of program do they want? What kind of issues surrounding drug and alcohol abuse were their biggest concerns? What were the age groups that were their biggest concerns? Obviously we couldn’t start the program until we knew what the public wanted,” Steinbock said.

“We learned that everyone realizes there’s a substance abuse problem not only in Chicopee but in Hampden Country and throughout the state and throughout the country. We found that parents really wanted some education in the schools for the teens and the youth whether it is outside of school time or within the school day or at events throughout the city over time,” she continued.

With this in mind, ADAPT’s primary focus became outreach to school-age children, thanks to considerable collaboration with Turmel and Assistant Superintendent Alvin Morton.

Since then, Steinbock said ADAPT has made “a lot of progress,” hosting a number of educational demonstrations.

The program hosted a presentation by Eric Stratton, currently a firefighter and paramedic for Fire District #1 in South Hadley and owner and president of STS Consulting Inc., a consulting company specializing in tactical EMS, officer down rescue techniques, and drug education. Prior to working in fire services, he spent 18 years working for the Hampden County Sheriff’s Department.

He is also due to make another visit to the area on May 10, 6 to 8 p.m., at Pope Francis High School. The program is free.

Police Lt. Pat Major also recently spoke to students about problems seeing in Chicopee from a law enforcement perspective while Fire Lt. Ben Turnberg, the city’s EMS coordinator, has also presented on Narcan, the drug commonly used to treat opioid overdoses.

“All of his training centers around Narcan and teaching the community about what Narcan is, how it is used and how you can get it,” Steinbock said.

ADAPT is also coordinating with the high schools on Project Purple Initiative, a national anti-substance abuse initiative of The Herren Project, a non-profit foundation established by former professional basketball player Chris Herren to help those struggling with substance abuse and addiction. Project Purple is being rolled out at both Chicopee High School and Chicopee Comp.

A health fair will also take place at Bellamy Elementary School in May.

“We’ll have a DJ and food and tables set up teaching about substance abuse,” Steinbock said. “Springfield had a similar health fair last year and it was very successful. We’re mirroring our event after that.”

Collaboration with the Boys and Girls Club is also in the works, pending the approval of a grant.

“We are starting a program for youth and teens at that would be in addition to what they already teach,” Steinbock said. “We’re waiting on grant funding so we can start a new curriculum over there and have events for the whole city that will be fun and educate the public.”

In its efforts to reach a greater segment of the population, in addition to robo-calls to all parents of children in Chicopee schools, ADAPT publicizes information, including upcoming events and meetings, on Facebook ( and Instagram. All ADAPT events are also broadcasted on Chicopee Public Television.
“It’s difficult to reach out into a community of 55,000 people. We’re doing the best week can,” Steinberg said.

For more information, contact Steinbock at or 594-3557, ext. 342 or visit the Chicopee Health Department’s website at

Share this: