WILDWOOD — More than 100 educators, law enforcement, parents and youth-serving organizations learned about ways to create safe spaces for at-risk youth during the sixth annual Cape May County PRIDE conference Thursday.
The Cape May County PRIDE (Prevention, Resources, Innovation, Development, Education) Committee was formed in 2013 to build awareness of the epidemic of prescription drugs, opiate misuse and the link to heroin use. Members include representatives from the Sea Isle City school board, the Cape May County Prosecutor’s Office, the Cape May County Office of Education, county educators, the county Department of Human Services and Cape Assist.
The keynote speaker at this year's event, held at Avalon Links Restaurant in Cape May Court House, was Noel Hiers, a social worker who presented on Mental Wellness and Safe Spaces for LGBTQI+ Youth. During her two-hour session, Hiers gave an overview of the current definitions and local trends within this community.
In her discussion, Hiers said LBGTQ youth are at greater risk for suicide attempts, substance use, homelessness and eating disorders.
Cape May County Prosecutor Jeffrey Sutherland also spoke on the importance of reporting bias intimidation and similar incidents toward the LGBTQ community.