Hulbert, Oklahoma, within the Cherokee Nation’s 14 counties, is a small town where big things get done for and by their youth. In fact, the Reaching Our Hulbert Community Board of Antidrug Network Delegates (ROHC BAND) coalition uses ‘horse-power’ to highlight prevention.
The coalition has educated and engaged residents in substance abuse prevention by a modern scavenger hunt, called the Horseshoe Hunt.
“We’re the talk of the town,” said coalition Director Shasta Teague, CPS, BHRS, and Drug-Free Communities Project Director.
Teague and her colleagues shared their idea and how it worked last week at CADCA’s National Leadership Forum. Their poster, presented at an Ideas Fair booth with dozens of others, “Get a Clue,” was voted by fellow attendees to be an award winner for Innovation.
Their innovative idea works like a scavenger hunt, but the coalition uses a horseshoe to attach clues that communicate prevention messages. Town residents find the clues and engage with each other on the coalition’s Facebook page. The game’s strategy brought the rural community together and increased Facebook page interaction by more than 1,000 percent during the past three years.
The coalition also conducts Sticker Shock campaigns using stickers the youth coalition created. They are about to hold a town hall meeting on underage drinking. Their youth coalition, ROHC STARS (Students Taking Active Roles in Society), along with another Cherokee County youth group called Students Working Against Tobacco (SWAT), picked up 2,015 butts at the Hulbert city park on a past Kick Butts Day. The STARS presented the collected butts to the Hulbert city council and convinced them to pass the Tobacco Free Parks ordinance.
To address prescription drug abuse in their local police station, the coalition installed a permanent drop box in the community. But Teague thought that their coalition’s horseshoe hunt strategy would be a good idea to share at the Forum.
“It gets everyone moving and learning and engaged with prevention education in a unique way,” Teague said. “It makes people hunt for the information. They can’t wait for the next clue.”
Prevention policies are shared through the game and also general awareness about healthy living. Timely topics are shared, as well, such as a nefarious plot to insert Halloween candy with drugs last Halloween. The horseshoe hunt must be working because their law enforcement sector has not had to remind anyone about smoking in the park.
The idea can work in a town as small as Hulbert, or a larger city, Teague said.
She said their Horseshoe Hunt provides the following for a coalition:
- Promotes family and community bonding while sleuthing
- Common ground for people of all ages and backgrounds
- Could adapt to various missions/messages as well as multiple city populations
- Promotes physical activity
- Completely free strategy with minimal staffing required
Teague volunteered in her home town coalition before she became its director. She said playing a game is a fun way to lighten up a serious topic of drug and alcohol abuse prevention. The coalition was founded in 2009 after a local resident died in a drunk driving crash.
“We are invested wholeheartedly in building relationships with and inspiring our youth to make positive life choices. People do not care what you know unless they know you care,” Teague concluded.