The C.A.N. (Community Alliance Network) Drug-Free Community Coalition brought various community sectors together for a town hall meeting, including members of the law enforcement community; prevention, treatment, and recovery advocates; healthcare providers; the faith community; parents; local business owners; the media; and other stakeholders. The event featured a range of speakers, including Substance Use Navigators (SUN), who presented on “Underage Drinking and Current Drug Trends” specific to the local community; a Coalition Coordinator, who presented on “Parents Who Host Lose the Most!”; a Youth Empowered Program (YEP!) Coordinator, who presented on how to get involved as advocates and leaders; and CCCADA staff, who presented on policy review.
In our community, SUNs are funded through the state and serve as a bridge to connect organizations with one another to help form a more cohesive and comprehensive system of care for youth with addiction and mental health issues. Additionally, YEP! is a program that works with area students to implement lessons around alcohol and other substance use prevention, life and refusal skills, communication skills, and more. Students can also participate in monthly YEP! Meetings to learn more about “Everyday Leadership” and how they can promote and implement prevention programs (such as Red Ribbon Week, Kick Butts Day, Rx Take Back Days, National Drug & Alcohol Fact Week, National Prevention Week, etc.) in their school or community.
One of our goals for that event was to provide attendees with knowledge and information from area experts around youth, underage drinking prevention, and related resources. In addition, we encouraged participants to weave the speakers’ messages and programs into their communities as strategies to reduce underage drinking. To date, several of our participating organizations have met with our staff to discuss policy changes. Others have invited SUNs to present at their organization, and several have worked to bring the YEP! program to their school. We’re very pleased with the success of our event and the collaborations we fostered.