From Awareness to Action: Getting Kids Involved in Prevention
A Focus on Two Prevention Paths
Robert Bean, Coalition Prevention Specialist, and Amanda Nickles, Youth Mentoring and Prevention Specialist, are relative newbies to OneEighty’s prevention team. But what they lack in years on the job, they compensate for with the passion they have for their mission.
Robert’s focus is on building and strengthening area coalitions. Robert has full confidence in the power of coalitions to bring all sectors of a community together to build a community-driven prevention network against drug and alcohol use. Currently, individuals from schools, law enforcement, and youth and parents comprise three area coalitions which encompass his work.
Amanda designs and implements youth mentoring programs, guides youth-led prevention, and does mentorship in several schools within the county.
Both of their roles share a goal of building assets in local youth. The Developmental Asset Framework established by Search Institute cataloged 40 Developmental Assets divided into two categories: external and internal. External assets refer to the support and opportunities youth need from their families and community. Internal assets are the skills and values youth need to help shape their identity. Studies show that the more assets young people have, the more likely they are to do well in school, be civically engaged, and value diversity. They are also less likely to have issues with substance use.
“We recently returned from a national Community Anti-Drug Coalitions of America (CADCA) conference,” Robert reported. “We were privileged to take six local teens and their youth advisor Sharon Nelson, representing Teen Institute, with us.”
CADCA’s mission is ‘to strengthen the capacity of community coalitions to create and maintain safe, healthy and drug-free communities globally.’ This conference was a first for these two Prevention Specialists. Both went with the goal of soaking in as much information as they could to enhance the work they are engaged in locally. The trip was also intended to build a variety of assets, including fostering positive adult relationships and empowering community values.
Local Youth Excel
“I was so impressed with the kids we brought with us,” Amanda said. “This conference had more youth, 600 strong, than they had ever had at a conference. Our kids acted as a strong family unit who were fully engaged in this wonderful life experience which included meeting youth from all over the country, seeing Washington DC, dining out in the big city, Capitol Hill connections, and coming to understand that Wayne County faces many of the same issues as the big cities, just on a smaller scale.”
Some sessions were exclusively geared to the youth, while others were focused more on adult education. Everything from courses on Cultural Differences to Talking to Anyone, and Mindfulness and Self-Care were included on the program.
“I sat in on the youth’s ‘Clearing the Air, The Truth about Marijuana,’ session where they discussed what the real facts are on today’s marijuana,” Robert said. “They used a group discussion format, and I am pleased to report that our kids did ‘know the truth.’ It was a learning experience for me as well: I learned that even locally, our kids reported experiencing other kids vaping in their classrooms. And there is so much misinformation about what they are ingesting while vaping.”
Identifying Your Own True North
Both Prevention Specialists reflected on the adult session where participants were asked to go to a corner of the room where they felt they personally most identified as to what mattered most to them. Choices included religion, gender identity, political views, socioeconomics, mental health, and cultural. Then they were asked to identify which of these concepts could be seen in them and which could not. The idea was to help them realize the complexity of where people are ‘coming from’ in their behaviors and ideas, and how best to use this information when interacting both with youth and in their adult relationships.
Youth and Community Coalitions Double the Impact
While parents have long been heralded as a child’s greatest champion and advocate, Robert, himself a new parent, expressed his conviction that using the voices of youth has tremendous power.
“Elevating youths’ voices has been shown to successfully create explosive prevention messaging. Our local youth coalition is just getting ready to launch a public messaging campaign,” Robert said. “While the good news is our local usage trends, as recorded through our Youth Assets and Substance Use Survey (YASYS) results, show that some 80% – 90% of local youth are not using, the concepts youth have about their invincibility remains a threat to their future. By using their talents in creating local messaging and conversations, and engaging adults in the work of our local coalitions, we have a significantly better chance of creating a safer, substance free community.”
Voice of One Youth
“The difference between how youth and adults perceive issues, along with how different people from different states and schools do so, was truly eye-opening and has changed my outlook in many different areas of my own life. The things that I had the chance to learn are real world rather than reading facts and statistics from a paper. I had the chance to hear from real people with real stories. Our RAPA [(Riders Are Peer Advocates) Club] as a whole had the chance to learn so many new ideas and to approach people who have the ability to make a change on a level larger than we could ever imagine.”
The Truth About Marijuana and Vaping Information
How to Participate in a Coalition
To learn more about each coalition please visit OneEighty’s Website, www.one-eighty.org and click the Community Relations and Prevention tab under Get Help. You can also visit a specific coalition website. Meetings are open to the public and all are welcome to attend. If you would like more information on how to get involved in coalitions, please contact Robert Bean, Coalition Prevention Specialist at 330-264-8498.
Circle Coalition Serving Wooster: https://circlecoalition.com/
Turning Point Coalition Serving Orrville: https://turningpointcoalition.com/
Rittman Salt Serving Rittman: https://www.rittmansaltcoalition.com/
We’re here to support you
We help people change direction with programs for addiction, domestic violence, rape crisis, mental health, housing, and prevention and education. At OneEighty, we actively support an evidence-based approach to sustainable recovery from trauma and addiction – restoring dignity and purpose, reimagining potential, and rebuilding lives. OneEighty offers counseling programs, intensive addiction treatment programs, group addiction treatment, residential services, recovery housing, and peer recovery.
If you or someone you love has experienced sexual assault or is experiencing domestic violence, call us at 800-686-1122. For those encountering a substance use crisis, please call OneEighty’s Substance Use Treatment Navigator Hotline, available 24 hours per day, 365 days per year at 330-466-0678.
For more resources, click the links below: