Rural Youth Engagement Toolkit

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One of the greatest challenges of this decade is opioid addiction. The opioid epidemic has wreaked havoc among many small towns in rural America as demonstrated by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) Morbidity and Mortality Report that shows higher rates of opioid-related deaths recorded in rural areas. The disease of addiction has infiltrated, and in many areas severely damaged the very fabric of rural communities. Treatment and recovery continue to be extremely important, however, more attention must be paid to addressing the problem upstream through universal prevention efforts. Data from the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) and the White House Office of National Drug Control Policy shows that $18 is saved for every dollar invested in prevention. In order to assure sustainability and long-term viability of prevention efforts, youth must play a key role in strategies and policy goals related to substance use and misuse prevention. Youth represent the future and offer unique perspectives on how certain drugs impact their communities. These perspectives, ideas, and energy are imperative to cause a generational disruption in substance misuse in rural America and increase the safety and health of communities.

This tool kit was created by CADCA (Community Anti-Drug Coalitions of America) in partnership with The National Grange of the Order of Patrons of Husbandry with the generous support of the Rx Abuse Leadership Initiative (RALI), with content contributions from the STAND Coalition of Scott County, TN and the Rural Youth Advisory Council, composed of rural youth throughout America who care about positive community change.

Who is the tool kit for?
The tool kit was created for Grangers, young people, coalitions, community-serving organizations, religious organizations and any other group that seeks to meaningfully engage rural youth, to address substance misuse issues in their communities and achieve positive community change through comprehensive strategies with a focus on policy and advocacy.

Why was the tool kit created and how was it created?
The content contained in this tool kit was created to address substance misuse in rural communities through the meaningful engagement and involvement of rural youth in the process to enact lasting change that will contribute to healthy and safe communities throughout America. Much of the content was developed and refined by CADCA through three decades of experience in building capacity and creating change through community coalitions from all 50 U.S. states and 30 countries globally. In addition, significant contributions were provided by the Rural Youth Advisory Council, composed of rural youth trained by CADCA from throughout the country, through a series of focus groups and discussions. The contributions from the council assured that youth were involved in every step of the creation of this tool kit and were paramount to assure of the relevancy and quality of the content.