Collaborate, Educate and Empower: Planting The Seeds of Community Change

In an effort to heighten awareness of the issues of substance abuse and addiction recovery in our community, The Going Respectfully Against Addictive Behaviors (GRAAB) Coalition proclaimed “31 Days of Prevention” for the month of October 2012. Working with our “partners in prevention,” the GRAAB Coalition sought to “Collaborate, Educate, and Empower” the citizens of Tennessee’s Bradley County.

The “31 Days of Prevention” worked in tandem with other community awareness events, including National Crime Prevention Month, National Medicine Abuse Awareness Month, and Red Ribbon Week.  This month provided opportunities to learn about substance abuse prevention to parents, youth, and anyone with an interest in learning more about the importance of providing a safe and healthy environment for our families. During this time, in addition to promoting a healthy lifestyle as a way of combating substance abuse, activities during October honored those who have successfully defeated addictive behaviors in their lives, and challenged those who are still combating substance abuse to keep up the good fight.

Events during this time have included parent workshops, health fairs, coalition open houses and presentations with our various “Partners in Prevention”. Up-to-date event information and general substance abuse facts and statistics were disseminated through GRAAB’s Twitter and Facebook accounts, and through our website.  Additionally, a local high school allowed students broadcast statistics and facts relating to the dangers of substance abuse through their internal media channel. The entire month-long event culminated during Red Ribbon Week, from October 23rd through 31st ,2012.

While the focus of this month is important for “rallying the troops,” we cannot forget our underlying mission: to continue to educate the community, especially our youth on the dangers of substance abuse, all year long. Teens today face an extraordinary set of challenges, from their family, their schools, and their peers. All of these influences can lead to positive, healthy relationships our youth need to thrive. But we know from time to time, peer pressure can lead to negative, destructive behaviors.

Teens have a voice in our community, and GRAAB strives to be the outlet for that voice by providing them with opportunities for safe, healthy activities, and with positive role models through our “Partners in Prevention”. GRAAB cannot achieve this alone. It is through our effective and lasting partnerships and community involvement, that we are one step closer to achieving the goals of educating our teens (and their families) on the dangers of substance abuse.

The mission of the GRAAB Coalition is to bring together concerned individuals, members of the community, and service providers to facilitate lowering illicit and addictive use of alcohol, tobacco, and other drugs in Bradley County, by providing effective education, recovery, and support for youth, families, and the community.

The GRAAB Coalition is a member of the Community Anti-Drug Coalitions of America (CADCA), as well as a recipient of the Drug Free Community Grant Recipient from the Office of National Drug Control Policy (ONDCP).