Pubdate: Mon, 20 Feb 2012 Source: Alberni Valley Times (CN BC) Copyright: 2012 Alberni Valley Times Contact: http://www.canada.com/vancouverisland/albernivalleytimes/ Details: http://www.mapinc.org/media/4043 Author: Heather Thomson, Alberni Valley Times GROUP STARTS CONVERSATION ON HARM REDUCTION With the serious topic of drug addiction on the floor, the Port Alberni Friendship Center was packed last week as the Alberni Valley Social Planning Council shared their plans for the future and launched their new harm reduction tool kits. The kits include information on how to dispose of needles properly, access to support services and harm reduction friendly sites within the city. Myron Jesperson, a member of the Harm Reduction Roundtable, introduced the kits to the large crowd. He said the meeting was a good starting point, a view that was shared by the other two speakers of the day. "I'm delighted by the response," he said. "We had a broad representation from the community. We still have many steps to go, but this is broadening the circle. People here have a lot of connections in the community and can make a real difference." Sandy Mclean is a registered nurse with Harris House Health Clinic, a needle exchange and health clinic in Nanaimo. She explained how she approaches harm reduction with kindness and respect. She said if everyone keeps those things in mind, people will heal. "It is great that the group is bringing the community together," she said. "They are willing to look to find solutions. By getting everyone working together how can they not work it out." She said what happened in that room on Thursday is going to have an impact on people who are struggling. It will make people view them differently. VIHA'S medical health officer for Central Island Dr. Paul Hassel back saw the day as a success. "It is phenomenal to see so many people here," he said. "Any dialogue that will move the community forward is helpful." For more information on the harm reduction kits or to get involved, call 250-731-1322. - --- MAP posted-by: Richard R Smith Jr.