The Arlington Youth Health and Safety Coalition doesn’t do its work sitting down. They were recently honored with CADCA’s Chairman’s Award at our 26th annual National Leadership Forum.
The Chairman’s Award is presented to a coalition in recognition of its exemplary approach and application of core competencies and essential processes to comprehensive work in their community. This award recognizes the coalition who best demonstrates their ability to take the lessons, skills and tools learned during CADCA’s National Coalition Academy and apply them in their community with tangible impact.
The Arlington Youth Health and Safety Coalition graduated from CADCA’s National Coalition Academy in 2015.
Ivy Laplante, MPH, coalition director, said attending the academy greatly strengthened their work. They attended in Drug-Free Communities Support Program grant year 6.
“This allowed us to re-evaluate the work we did during our first grant cycle and plan strategically for the next five years. The information learned gave us a great foundation to strengthen our work. We regularly use the tools learned at the academy to build capacity of (the coalition) and implement evidence-based comprehensive strategies,” Laplante said.
She said that receiving the Chairman’s Award was a true celebration of all of the coalition’s accomplishments during the past year.
“The Chairman’s Award showcased and reinforced our efforts to prevent and reduce substance abuse among youth in Arlington. The coalition has worked diligently to implement new substance abuse prevention policies in our school and town, to build capacity of the coalition, and prevent youth substance use,” Laplante said.
She notes that their student members have been and continue to bring forward new ideas and initiatives to their coalition.
The coalition serves a suburban community of 43,000 people (21 percent are youth under the age of 18), in Arlington, Mass., and is located six miles northwest of Boston. The community has several community conditions that perpetuate youth substance use, including adult attitudes and practices favorable to underage drinking, tobacco, marijuana and prescription drug misuse, ease of youth access of substances, and poor coordination across community resources to identify at-risk youth.
“Present coalition activities seek to reform these community norms and support Arlington to be a safe and vibrant community where youth choose to live substance free and are collectively supported by their peers, parents and community members in making healthy decisions,” Laplante said.
The coalition accomplishment that the director is most proud of is its Opioid Prevention Forum last October. The coalition assembled a panel of law enforcement members, substance abuse treatment professionals, community members in recovery, and government leaders. The forum presented the community response to long-term recovery to more than 200 people and addressed the growing community concern over the opioid crisis in their community.
Currently, the coalition is collaborating with the school department to coordinate substance use disorder screenings of middle school students. They plan to start administering SBIRT (Screening Brief Intervention and Referral to Treatment) screenings to 7th grade students at the public middle school and plan for future implementation at the high school level.
“CADCA is thrilled to be able to recognize the Arlington Youth Health and Safety Coalition this year at our most important training event. The coalition has provided evidence of its impact in their community and we are proud to have them as members to help keep America’s communities healthy, safe and drug-free,” said CADCA’s Chairman and CEO, Gen. Arthur T. Dean.