mission of the CTC board which sbn Strongheart is a member of
Underage alcohol and other drug (AOD) involvement is not based solely on personal characteristics. The choice to use is powerfully influenced by a complex set of factors in the social environment: community norms, mass media messages, accessibility of alcohol, tobacco and other drugs. Effective prevention requires making appropriate modifications in the community at large.
Research suggests youth in affluent communities are more at risk for AOD involvement than is generally assumed. To address the reduction of underage AOD use by the youth of Mercer Island, the City of Mercer Island Youth & Family Services (MIYFS) was awarded a Drug Free Communities (DFC) grant from the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMSHA) and the Office of National Drug Control Policy (ONDCP). This grant, awarded in October, 2007, focuses on community-level change. It builds upon the work of the 2005-2007 prevention grant from the Alcohol and Other Drugs Prevention Program of Seattle and King County Public Health. This prevention grant established the Mercer Island Communities That Care (CTC) Project in 2005.
The CTC project, based on the Hawkins and Catalano Community Mobilization model, led to the creation of the Mercer Island Communities That Care Coalition. Coalition development integrated 5 phases of community mobilization. Those five phases are: organizing key community leaders to develop a vision, gathering data to develop a community profile, creating a community action plan, and implementing strategies to reduce underage AOD use by Mercer Island youth. Strategies included a community assessment by Dr. Suniya Luthar of Columbia University, an underage drinking forum, information dissemination at community events, implementing school-based prevention curricula, community education regarding AOD use among Mercer Island youth and community education detailing the consequences of AOD use on adolescent brain development.
The CTC Coalition will continue to embrace the DFC prevention model aimed at changing the environment that facilitates underage AOD use on Mercer Island. Our goal is to create long lasting results in our community that will positively impact the lives of our youth both now and into the future.