In Rutherford County, Tennessee, the Prevention Coalition for Success combined the digital medium with substance prevention among youth. Serving 300,000 people in one of the fastest growing counties in Tennessee, the coalition focuses on addressing factors that increase substance use and misuse and arming an array of community partners with the knowledge, skills, and support to minimize the risk of substance misuse.
“As a coalition, we partnered with our county schools coordinated school health supervisor to implement the AlcoholEdu program,” said Jermonde Bey, the Prevention Coalition for Success Coalition Director. “We are now in our second year implementing this program; the first year, we began with only a few schools and in our second year, we have doubled the number of schools implementing the program.”
The coalition implemented the EverFi’s AlcoholEdu program, focusing on middle and high school students within the county. AlcoholEdu uses a public health approach to preventing alcohol use by incorporating evidence-based prevention methods to create a highly engaging user experience for students. The accessible online program allows schools to reach all students with a consistent message and empower them to make safer and healthier decisions about alcohol.
Students increased their scores on assessment tests by an average of 51 percent. Subjects of increased knowledge were: basic alcohol knowledge, brain and body impact, laws and community issues, and decision-making skills. The measure of student engagement was recorded at 80 percent and above in some areas. Engagement through education makes a strong case for the students’ increased knowledge. The AlcoholEdu program also touches on various other topics that are relevant to students, such as peer pressure, etc.
“Our advice to other coalitions is to continue to use your community partnerships that are relevant to your specific initiative. Partnerships are the key to what makes a coalition a strong force in the community,” said Bey. “Implementing new coursework into a school system is very tough, which is why we as a coalition are proud of our AlcoholEdu initiatives. The Prevention Coalition for Success could not provide prevention at the level we have over the years without the support of individuals and organizations within our county.”