Coalitions in Action— Knox Substance Abuse Action Team Teaches How to “Be a Parent, Not a Friend”
Tell me about your community and the communities that your coalition serves.
The Knox Substance Abuse Action Team (KSAAT), a coalition out of Knox County, Ohio, has strived to reduce substance use and abuse among the county’s 61,000 residents since 2011. Knox County is a rural community that spans 530 square miles. KSAAT is comprised of concerned parents, community leaders, teens, businessmen and women, law enforcement, and local media.
KSAAT includes anyone and everyone concerned about the impact substance abuse has on the community. Each member of the coalition is dedicated to reducing alcohol, tobacco and other drug misuse among youth and adults in the community.
What unique issue is your coalition facing?
“Using PRIDE survey data, coalition members and youth identified alcohol abuse as a problem among teens in our community,” said the coalition’s program coordinator Tina Cockrell. “Specifically, 64% of students who reported using alcohol in the last 30 days reported binge drinking. Additionally, the students reported drinking on the weekends at home or at a friend’s house.”
What activity or program is your coalition most proud of?
“The Knox County Teen Advisory Council (TAC) is a youth-led prevention group of the Knox Substance Abuse Action Team,” said Cockrell. “TAC’s scope is to promote overall healthy lifestyles: preventing drug use/abuse and promoting healthy relationships among peers. TAC currently has 53 members, representing all of our high schools in the county and our homeschool population. TAC meets monthly to discuss their ideas and plans.”
“TAC members used the knowledge from the PRIDE survey to create a public service announcement. The message, “Be a Parent, Not a Friend,” reminds parents of the dangers of providing a ‘safe’ environment for youth to drink. The production was entirely youth-led, and TAC members created the characters, wrote the script, identified shoot locations, performed in lead roles and as supporting cast, and assisted with the production of this PSA.”
How did you get there, and what are your outcomes?
“Using SAMHSA’s Strategic Prevention Framework, students applied CADCA’s strategy of providing information to their public service announcement,” said Cockrell. “Students created an overall theory of change, identified intervening variables of peer pressure and fitting in with friends, and created a timeline of events to address the problem of underage drinking. In 2013, 18% of students reported a combined 30-day use rate of alcohol. In 2018, the percent of 30-day use rate combined has decreased to 13%.”
What advice would you give to other coalitions that may be addressing some of the same issues?
“Reach out to agencies in your community and build relationships,” said Cockrell. “Collaborate and strengthen your community together.” “Involving the youth in our community has provided a great deal of insight and resources,” said Cockrell. “We have empowered the youth to make a difference within their schools, their lives, and the lives of their friends. We build relationships with them, encourage them, provide a safe space to express concerns, and support them when they make mistakes. If your coalition doesn’t have a youth-led group, I encourage you to embrace the idea. Begin making connections with schools, church youth groups, 4-H leaders, sports teams, juvenile court systems and parents. Allow their creativity and desire to make a difference lead the way to change.”