The Highland County Drug Abuse Prevention Coalition on Thursday discussed the creation of a strategic plan for drug abuse prevention efforts around the county.
Tessa Miracle of Interact for Change, a Cincinnati nonprofit, and Jennifer Benson, an Ohio certified prevention consultant, spoke to the coalition about the plan, which is funded by a nearly $1 million grant awarded to local nonprofit REACH for Tomorrow by the Ohio Mental Health and Addiction Services Board.
Heather Gibson, president of the coalition and CEO of REACH, said after the meeting that the grant, in the amount of $175,000 each year for four years, was awarded to REACH to fund a variety of initiatives, including the strategic plan.
Miracle said the first step of creating the plan is conducting an assessment to identify the community’s needs, “unlikely partners” for prevention initiatives and residents’ perception of drug abuse in the area. After the assessment is finished, organizers will develop the framework for the plan.
Much of the data for the assessment will come from a recent survey of Highland County students on substance abuse, according to Gibson.
Danielle Poe of REACH for Tomorrow said the survey collected enough data to fill more than 300 pages.
According to Poe, an “alarming” amount of local students reported abusing substances such as alcohol and tobacco as early as age 13. Poe noted that the students of that same age reported the lowest amount of harm perception.
Poe said most of the surveyed students who reported abusing substances said they did so at home on the weekends.
Miracle and Benson said they look forward to working with coalition members to create the plan.
The full results of the student drug abuse survey can be found at www.reachfortomorrowohio.org/pride-survey-results.
The group also discussed upcoming events, including a bowling event sponsored by Hope for Highland County on May 15, and a Bikers for Christ ride in Greenfield June 16.
Jason Snider, a member of the coalition, said more information on those events can be found by visiting the Hope for Highland County Facebook page at www.facebook.com/hopeforhighlandcounty.
The coalition also discussed putting together a presentation on drug abuse prevention to reach local churches.
The Highland County Drug Abuse Prevention Coalition is a group of law enforcement officials, mental health and drug treatment service providers, people of faith and concerned citizens who meet monthly to exchange ideas on how to reduce drug abuse in Highland County.
The group meets at noon every fourth Thursday of the month in the main conference room at the North High Business Center.
The coalition can be found on Facebook at www.facebook.com/HCDAPC.
Reach David Wright at 937-402-2570, or on Twitter @DavidWrighter.