Coalitions in Action: Northeast Community Springboard Coalition Partners with School District for Project Peace

The Northeast Community Springboard Coalition (NCSC) held a forum specifically focused on K2 drugs, synthetic cannaboids, gathering the most successful turnout of any coalition event. The coalition partnered with the local police department and district attorney’s office, who jumped in to provide support.

“Residents had many questions about this drug and its impact on the community after there were more than 30 reported overdoses related to K2 in a two-week period,” said Vanessa Sophy, Program Manager at NCSC. “Our coalition has held multiple town meetings/forums within our community focusing on alcohol, marijuana and then this one on K2. Though the grant’s focus is mainly on alcohol and marijuana, the forum on K2 was probably the most successful turnout we’ve had at an event.”

Located in southeastern Pennsylvania, NCSC chose the northeast part of Reading as its primary focus due to the high density of schools and high crime rates in the area. The coalition serves over 88,000 people.

The coalition also works closely with youth, participating in a CADCA medicine safety pilot program. The students trained by the pilot program trained fellow high school students on the free, evidence-based Over-The-Counter Medicine Safety program and implemented the program at some after-school programs at a local elementary school. The project will be extended next year to train even more students so that the program can be presented to other elementary classes.

To reach the youth population, NCSC works closely with the Reading School District. With Project Peace, a program implemented in the high school, intermediate school and all four city middle schools, teachers serve as advisors in each of the schools, allowing the coalition access to survey the students, gain partnerships for events and host educational forums.

“The superintendent and principals at the schools have been very receptive to all of our ideas and have made it a lot easier for NCSC to accomplish our objectives,” said Sophy.

Last year, the coalition surveyed Reading High School to understand the attitudes and beliefs of the students. The survey questions focused on alcohol, marijuana, K2, youth violence and school culture. Recently, in May, the Reading Intermediate High School was given the social norms survey. Now, the surveys will be evaluated and the coalition will work with Project Peace students over the summer to be able to roll out a social media campaign with middle schools during the 2017 – 2018 school year.

“It’s very important to form partnerships with other groups within the community,” Sophy advises. “Believe in our youth and encourage our youth to live a drug free safer and healthier life. Communities need to be open-minded, innovative, creative, resourceful team players willing to work for our community.”