Mark Wahlberg’s Youth Foundation has chosen Haverhill as the latest city to host a screening of the short film “If Only,” written and produced by the actor’s brother Jim Wahlberg.
The screening will take place on Thursday, Aug. 17 at 6 p.m. in the Haverhill High School Cafeteria, and will include an appearance by Jim Wahlberg, who also serves as the Executive Director of the Mark Wahlberg Youth Foundation. The event was made possible through the efforts of the YMCA and the Haverhill Overdose Prevention and Education (HOPE) Task Force, a citywide initiative created by Mayor James J. Fiorentini in 2015.
Jim Wahlberg is grateful for the opportunity to screen his project for Haverhill audiences. “I have one rule: When someone asks us to come, we go if it’s at all possible,” the filmmaker told WHAV.
Filmed at Tewksbury Memorial High School in 2015, “If Only” tells the story of two teens who become addicted to drugs. Jim Wahlberg’s son Jeffrey appears in the film, which was produced in conjunction with Millennium Health.
Those associated with the Haverhill screening hope the film will spark conversation among teens, parents and city officials about the perils of opiate abuse in the Merrimack Valley. “Providing a forum for information and for questions to be answered can help address the epidemic, which continues to grow,” YMCA’s Regional Executive Director Tracy Fuller explained to WHAV.
For Jim Wahlberg, who travels the country speaking with audiences about addiction, conversations cannot start early enough. “Forget what you think you know based on your own experience when you were growing up — and just start talking about it,” he advises parents. “We talk to toddlers about why they shouldn’t touch a hot stove or talk to strangers… tell your little kids that they should only take medicine that’s for them; tell your big kids that a little pain is OK – it likely passes, but what we know as adults on the other side of this thing, is that the pain of addiction sends shockwaves through families and communities that have a significant lasting impact.”
The first 200 families to attend the screening will receive backpacks stuffed with school supplies. Pizza and babysitting will be offered so that the film can be accessible to all.