Coalitions in Action — West Spokane Wellness Partnership Develops Positive Social Norm Campaign for COVID-19

“West Spokane Wellness Partnership is a community coalition located in West Spokane, Washington,” said Coalition Coordinator Sarah McNew. “The coalition is currently in its ninth year of service. In 2019, the United States Census Bureau estimated the city's population at 222,081 and the population of the Spokane Metropolitan Area at 573,493.”

“The unique challenge our coalition is facing is reaching and engaging youth and families,” said McNew. “We are currently partnering with Greater Spokane Substance Abuse Council and hosting a year-long Youth Leadership Forum, addressing key topics such as substance use and misuse, mental health, living without a home and safety. The youth in the forum have identified COVID-19 as being an incredible stressor, due to the responsibility it has placed on them to be accountable for their own personal health and safety and the health and safety of others around them.”

“West Spokane Wellness Partnership and three new community coalitions recently graduated three families in our first ‘Virtual Strengthening Families’ series,” said McNew. “Our coalition just hosted a drive-thru National Prescription Take Back Day where we secured 100 pounds of medication and distributed 40+ medication lock boxes to community members. We are currently partnering to host and facilitate a ‘Youth Leadership’ series in our community. We have also released a ‘Holiday PSA: Driving Impaire’ billboard and poster, and developed a ‘True/False’ campaign for community engagement. We also released Radio PSA’s via iHeartRadio and Pandora, highlighting the ‘Starts With One Opioid’ campaign and the ‘Talk, They Hear You’ campaign.”

“We are most proud of our ‘Positive Social Norm’ training with Montana Institute,” said McNew. “We recently developed and released our first ‘Positive Social Norm’ campaign poster and billboard, building capacity for positive social norms in our community. We also disseminated over 1500 positive social norm message posters to our local community.”

“My advice to anyone working during these challenging times is to reach out to other coalitions in your communities, region and nationally and find out what they are doing, how they are doing and what is working for them,” said McNew. “There are so many amazing people and coalitions doing great work during this pandemic and it is crucial that we connect with one another, support one another and collectively share ideas. Give yourself grace, be patient with the process and try to keep a strengths-based perspective. I have been a coalition coordinator for four years and, although the pandemic has been stressful and made it hard to reach the community at times, it has also been a blessing because it has allowed for our coalition to invest time in planning, being very intentional and strategic in implementation and creating new partnerships.”

“Our coalition is currently building capacity for a youth coalition, youth leadership and youth engagement,” said McNew. “We will be attending CADCA Forum this February and would love to learn valuable skills and tools to help support our youth in our community and empower them as youth prevention leaders.”