Having trouble viewing this email? View it as a Web page. | REPLY TO: Prevention

Banner Edit

October 2021.  Domestic Violence and Substance Use Awareness Month 


Welcome to the Community and Parent Support Newsletter! 

This newsletter is to bring ideas, information, and resources to you – our community – to support the mental health and wellness of children and their families. It is another way that we’re working to support children and families, and everyone in our community, as we continue to adapt to new realities and challenges.

It comes to you from a multidisciplinary team of staff and community members. This team includes staff from Department of Human Services (DHS),  Arlington Court Service Unit (CSU) and Arlington Public Schools (APS). When our world (and our work) changed in March of 2020. Everyone’s life changed. And we adapted. We knew that families and parents would need additional support as they took on a whole new set of responsibilities, and lived in a world that had more uncertainty. We produce a series of over 50 webinars designed to address the new realities that our community was facing, including parenting skills, stress and self-care, racial injustice, and mental health. Our webinars featured people from Arlington Public Schools, Juvenile and Domestic Relations Courts, Parks and Recreation, Arlington County Police, and many others from across Arlington.

This quarterly newsletter is for YOU and your families, friends, and neighbors. Tell us what family and mental health issues are most concerning to you right now. Do you have concerns about mental illness in your family? Suicide? Drug or alcohol use? Screen time? Let us know! We also welcome submissions! Do you have an idea that would help other families? Share it with us! You can reach us at DHSPrevention@arlingtonva.us, or by phone at 703-228-1528. Check out our website as well!

We look forward to building this newsletter with you, and continuing to walk with you through successes and challenges, big and small, that you face every day. We are here for you!


Meet the Prevention Unit

 Linh Nghe (He/Him)                      Courtney Martin (She/Her)            Kirstan Fuller  (She/Her)           Prevention Director                        Prevention Specialist                     Prevention Specialist 


Leonardo Espiña (He/Him)              Michael Swisher  (He/Him)        Siobhan Grayson (She/Her)    Parent Education Coordinator         Parent & Community                 Youth Outreach Coordinator                                                                       Engagement Specialist                   

Team 3

                              Sally Labonte (She/her)                              Grace Wagner (She/her)                                                             Website Coordinator                                     Data Analyst 

Team 2

Youth and Marijuana 

With the recent legalization of marijuana in the State of Virginia, concerns have emerged that teenage individuals will use this legislation as their “pass” to utilize this dangerous substance. While the adolescent brain is not fully mature until the age of 25, the introduction of marijuana into the growing and developing brain can cause an impact with neurological development. More specifically, early marijuana use can create disruption in the brain’s connections, leading to issues with an adolescent’s cognitive function; as well as structural changes in the brain’s gray matter, resulting in neuropsychological deficits. The short-term effects of marijuana use in adolescents include issues with memory, attention, learning, and decision-making. There are also possible long-term effects of marijuana which include poor school performance, higher school dropout rates, and greater unemployment rates. Research shows an increase in the risk of early onset psychotic disorders, such as schizophrenia. Marijuana is still widely viewed as a Gateway Drug, leading to increased research on the use of other dangerous substances, such as opioids. In 2017, the Arlington Addiction Recovery (AARI) taskforce was created in response to the rising concerns regarding opioids within the Arlington County community. The primary goal at that time was to work to prevent individuals from developing a substance use disorder, increase access and awareness of available treatment resources in our community, and decrease access to opioids; however, as time has passed, the need to expand and focus on other substances has become more evident. Recently, a new sub-committee was created, which placed a specific focus on marijuana and the recent state legalization. The goal of the Marijuana Prevention Committee is to promote awareness and education around marijuana legislation and the effects marijuana has on the brain. The committee’s focus will be to disseminate information to the Arlington community about the impact of marijuana on the brain, legalization laws, and the effects it has on the brain.  Our committee consists of members of the community (students and parents), APS, DHS, the courts, and professionals from the Arlington Addiction Recovery Initiative. We will meet twice a month to discuss substance abuse related content and our goal is to be non-judgmental in our message to the community. On October 19, 2021, at 12pm and 6pm, we will have our first virtual presentation titled, “Marijuana is Legal, So What Now?”. We hope that this will compel community members to attend and obtain some useful information on the current laws in VA, safe storage, and the effects of marijuana. 

To learn more about the youth and Teen Network Board, check out the website and click here for their newsletter. To learn more and to get involved, email Siobhan Grayson at sgrayson@arlingtonva.us. To attend this presentation click here 

project peace

Raising Awareness for Domestic Violence

Domestic violence awareness month was created not only to bring more awareness to others but to connect and unify the millions of affected victims that had been battered due to domestic violence. Its hope is to break the chains of violence that currently have such a strong grip on our nation. Every year, right around 10 million people become victims of domestic violence, which equates to just about 20 people every minute.  It affects not only women, but men and children, of all different races, status, religions, and culture. No one is immune to it. We would like to highlight Project Peace and their dedication to ending abuse.  

Arlington County’s Project PEACE (Partnering to End Abuse in the Community for Everyone), is a coordinated community response dedicated to advancing the most effective and efficient array of education, prevention, protection, and support services to end domestic and sexual violence in the community.  

The efforts of Project PEACE aim to enhance the safety of victims, hold abusers accountable for their actions, and improve the well-being of Arlington County citizens and visitors impacted by interpersonal violence. Project PEACE members work together to ensure the availability of and access to:  

  • A responsive police department;  
  • Legal options and supports that support survivors and hold perpetrators accountable;  
  • Medical support and forensic evidence collection;  
  • 24/7 advocacy services that provide hotline, shelter, crisis intervention and hospital accompaniment support to victims and survivors of abuse;  
  • Short and long term mental health supports;  
  • Housing and financial assistance;  
  • Youth and adult focused prevention efforts to end violence before it begins and  
  • Specialized supports for minors, immigrant communities, people with disabilities and the LGBTQIA+ (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Queer, Intersex, Asexual, +) community. 

For more information about upcoming events for the month, please visit the website 



Other Ways We Are Raising Awareness 

The Arlington Healthy Relationships Task Force (Arlington HRT) is a group of students from all of the Arlington high schools who meet monthly to raise awareness about sexual assault and healthy relationships. The Task Force promotes awareness through educational campaigns, monthly meetings and outreach efforts throughout Arlington County Public Schools.  

The ultimate goal of HRT is to give students a voice and an opportunity to actively spread awareness and make changes in Arlington to improve relationships between students and eradicate sexual assault. HRT membership is open to Arlington youth age 14-21. Join us today to promote positive relationships and end violence in Arlington.  

Project PEACE supports HRT’s efforts by providing resources, adult/community support and subject matter expertise.  

To learn more and to get involved, email Ashley Blowe at ABlowe@arlingtonva.us  

facebook Arlington logo