7 Examples of Community Prevention Efforts from the 2017 CADCA Dose of Prevention Award Winner
The Pledge for Life Partnership was awarded the Dose of Prevention Award by the Community Anti-Drug Coalitions of America (CADCA) and the Consumer Healthcare Products Association (CHPA) for their diverse strategies to support medicine safety.
Communities across the US are making efforts to curb substance abuse in teens. We, as the Pledge for Life Partnership, are always trying to look for what is being overlooked in our community. Cough medicine abuse is definitely one of those issues.
Our capstone strategy is our Life Education Center mobile training unit that goes to the schools across Illinois’s Kankakee and Iroquois counties teaching healthy lifestyle choices. This “stop them before they start” prevention strategy was made possible to a core group of women in 1989 who came together after seeing the pain of losing too many to substance abuse. This environmental strategy enables us to have a positive impact on over 10,000 students each year. The students are then empowered to go home and share what they have learned with their parents to help guide the conversations between families about how they can choose healthy choices together. We begin this relationship with the students as Kindergarteners because we feel you can’t start early enough and we continue working with them until they graduate. In high school, they have the opportunity to serve on our Pledge for Life Partnership Youth Advisory Council where they are catalysts for community-level change
1989 – Many women in the Junior League came together to raise funds to purchase a mobile training unit to be able to reach all children with prevention messages continually from Kindergarten to high school.
We elevate our youth to be the experts to help teach our community about what is important to them. They are not just our future leaders but our current leaders – helping to create and guide our prevention strategies. Here are our top 10 examples of ways our youth impacted our community that could generate some ideas for your community:
#1: Empower youth to create positive social norms with a multi-media communication campaign
For example, we hosted contests challenging youth to create billboards, videos, radio Public Service Announcements, and social media messages about medicine safety. Fifth and sixth graders designed billboards and posters that were voted on by 7th and 8th graders in a mock election process carried out with assistance from the Kankakee County Clerk allowing us to use the actual voting machines.
Our Youth Advisory Council created positive social norms campaigns using memes with local data to highlight the large number of youth not using harmful substances using the hashtag #JoinTheCrowd.
#2: Recruit small groups to help spread the movement to create large-scale awareness
Give unique groups such as school robotics teams or speech clubs the chance to showcase what keeps them drug-free by sharing a post stating, “I would rather choose ________ than misusing medications. #bekindtothemind.”
#3: Have youth write a “Dear Future Me” letter.
#4: Create a fact sheet that youth can share at farmers markets, senior fairs, and other local community events.
#5: Make sure your community knows where your local drop-box locations are for people to safely dispose of unneeded medications.
We created a brochure with a magnet with information about how to safely dispose of unneeded medications at whichever drop-box is most convenient. We were so thankful for our army of volunteers to help us stuff the 12,000 letters we sent to parents of school-age children across our community. An amazing local non-profit that helps empower adults with special needs to make a difference in their community volunteered to help apply the magnets to the brochures while youth from alternative schools donated community service hours to stuff and label the envelopes.
#6: Get your medicine safety plan out there.
Recruit partners to help spread awareness and share any prevention materials through their social media accounts, on display boards, on their websites, and in person. Pharmacists, funeral homes, and grandparents have been coming back to us for more ways to spread awareness.
#7: Celebrate the strength of diverse partnerships.
Our progress with substance abuse prevention is made possible thanks to our diverse community partners. The Kankakee County State’s Attorney sponsored a “What Keeps Me DDrug-Free youth art competition. The local chapter of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People hosted an opioid forum to raise awareness. The Kankakee County Hispanic Partnership helped us spread the word about our efforts. One of our rural communities hosted a school-based awareness event to address what parents, teachers, and students can do to prevent addiction. We celebrated our diverse partners with a “Rolling Out the Red Carpet” event where 60 local prevention all-stars were honored in front of 86 community members. We are so thankful for each and every one of our incredible partners that help piece together a safer and healthier community.
The Pledge for Life Partnership challenges you to think through who is being overlooked in your community and how you can help transform them into local prevention champions. Thank you for all the ways you play your part to help make your community safer and healthier.