• Drug Free Cecil

The Roots of Prevention

Written By Virgil Boysaw, Jr. Drug Free Cecil Coordinator

The work of prevention has come a long way. From the days of taking youth on field trips (i.e. Kings Dominion) to building collaborative coalitions, prevention always needed the community to be engaged in the work of creating safe and healthy environments.

I started in the field of prevention back in the spring of 1997 and we were doing a lot of “feel good” activities that we thought were making a difference, but we couldn’t be sure. Over the years, there have been some changes in our society that have changed the focus of prevention in our community and in most communities across America.

For instance, a few years ago, children and youth were routinely being left home alone between the hours of 3 and 6 pm; this resulted in accidents, death and more. As a result, communities began to ask the government to respond to the national “crisis” of youth being left unsupervised. In response, after school programs and organizations were created. Some well-known organizations such as the Boys and Girls Club of America, the YWCA and YMCA, and the 4H Clubs partnered with local community groups to combat the challenge. The government couldn’t do this by itself. The local community was needed to volunteer and be engaged to help out with staffing as well as to develop strategies to sustain the programs.

Not long after the implementation of the after school programs, the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMSHA) developed the Evidence –Base Model Program Initiative. This was a plan for both community and agency-based organizations to choose programs that were vetted by prevention professionals and deemed effective by the National Register of Evidence-based Prevention Programs (NREPP). Examples such as Strengthening Families, Second Step and Keeping a Clear Mind were implemented by Prevention Coordinators. These programs include evaluation tools so that communities could track the progress being made toward desired outcomes. The community was encouraged to be engaged in the choosing and implementation of the selection process.

A few years later, SAMHSA, created a planning model called the Strategic Prevention Framework (SPF) to help the field of prevention to use a systems model to access, build capacity, plan, implement, and evaluate prevention activities and programs.

Of course, the need for the community to be engaged in the process was critical in the success of the SPF process.

Today, the Communities Anti-Drug Coalitions of America (CADCA) promotes and leads the Drug Free Cecil Coalition movement that seeks to engage the local community in a youth-led, adult guided initiative. CADCA believes in a “local problem, local solution” approach that encourages the community to be “part of the solution”.

The Drug Free Cecil Coalition (DFCC) has 12 sector leaders representatives from schools, youth-serving agencies, health, youth, law enforcement, faith-based, government, business, media, substance abuse experts, parent, and civic sectors. Together, these partners collaborate with the local community to become problem solvers of community issues as they relate to substance use disorders.

Drug Free Cecil Coalition is unique in that the youth are part of the conversation!

Prevention encourages the local community to be totally engaged in the efforts of the reduction of substance use disorders. Prevention needs the “entire village” to be a part of the solution.

Interested in getting involved? Contact Virgil Boysaw, Jr, Prevention Supervisor and Drug Free Cecil Coordinator at virgil.boysaw1@maryland.gov and /or Beth Creek, Executive Director of Youth Empowerment Source, Inc. at bcreek.yes@gmail.com.

Become part of the movement.

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