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What Young People Need From You
Park Hill CAFY
Please briefly describe your Communities Talk activity.
Park Hill Coalition Alliance For Youth (CAFY) held two key events for our Communities Talk activity. The first was a static display at a local library. This display included a variety of materials targeted toward elementary, middle, and high school students, as well as caring adults. At the event we shared information about addiction and healthy coping mechanisms. We also shared resources from a local partner organization, ParentUP KC, which aims to encourage parents to have prevention conversations with their children.
The second event was a Facebook Live interview held with a family and marriage therapist, who helped parents/caretakers understand and brainstorm actions to give kids the best chance at emotional well-being, develop positive coping skills, and prevent underage drinking. This interview reviewed the impact of toxic stress and trauma on youth and how this may lead to substance misuse. Our presenter provided several options that parents/caretakers could use to begin to build a trusting relationship with the youth in their life. Parents/caretakers were encouraged to write down an action step they can implement within the next 30 days to strengthen the relationship and build positive coping skills with their kids. At the conclusion, parents/caretakers were provided with the opportunity to engage in a Q&A session and received ParentUP KC resources, including discussion guides, toolkits, and information regarding underage drinking prevention.
How does underage drinking and substance misuse affect your community?
There have been rising concerns in the local community regarding the mental health crisis plaguing our youth. The impacts from COVID-19 and the disruption and trauma have been felt across our community and nation. Our concern is that this mental health crisis will lead to an increase in substance use and misuse. According to the 2020 Missouri Student Survey, 8.9 percent of Platte County youth used alcohol in the last 30 days, and 37.9 percent of these youth reported that there was “no” or “slight risk” from using alcohol. Additionally, 23.8 percent reported feeling “very sad” and 9.3 percent considered suicide. These numbers were collected prior to the onset of the pandemic.
What goal(s) did you hope to accomplish with your Communities Talk activity?
- Reduce prevalence of underage drinking and other substances in community
- Create an ongoing conversation about underage drinking and substance use prevention in the community
- Building buffers against toxic stress and trauma as a way to prevent substance use and misuse.
Who did you involve in your activity planning, and who did your activity impact?
Our coalition members were key to supporting the planning of our activity impact. We worked with leaders in the school district, public library system, mental healthcare leaders, and health department. Our intended audience was local parents and caretakers, as well as other caring adults.
Which Communities Talk resources (or other SAMHSA resources) were most helpful for your activity?
- StopAlcoholAbuse.gov website
- Communities Talk planning guides
Did the COVID-19 pandemic affect the planning or execution of your activities?
The COVID-19 pandemic has placed a great deal of burden and stress on all community members. Many have extremely full levels of responsibility and committing to attending or planning an additional activity is very challenging.
Despite these challenges, we were able to bring our group together to discuss and plan these activities. We did make them virtual because of the pandemic to allow people who may be concerned about exposure to COVID-19 or who have childcare restrictions to be able to participate. We also worked to create an informative static display to continue our outreach in a way that would maximize social distancing, while still providing the greatest level of connection possible.
What other challenge(s) did you face in planning your activity this year?
- Change in organizational structure or staff
How did you overcome these challenges?
During 2021, the program director at Park Hill CAFY transitioned. We were able to hire and train a new program director, who took over the planning procedures for our Communities Talk event.
What are your next steps?
- Create new action groups to tackle specific issues raised during our Communities Talk activity
- We will be hosting a resiliency action guide group in January to address ACEs and their impact on youth substance use.
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