2009-03-21 / News

Guest Column: Prevention works

By Fairfield County Commissioner Judy Shupe

As a county commissioner there are many opportunities to promote and serve our community. In an effort to highlight the many committees and boards that help make our county a better place, I will be highlighting several committees on which I serve in my columns.

One of the most rewarding and in-depth projects that I have been a part of is a coalition aimed at preventing drug abuse among our youth. Originally called the Community Coalition for a Drug- Free Fairfield County, we now call ourselves Prevention Works for a Drug-Free Fairfield County. The Coalition was formed to prevent and reduce substance abuse and violence among youth and over time, among adults.

Many leaders of our community serve on the Coalition and represent medical, youth, media, schools, senior citizens, service organizations, parents, social services, law enforcement, government, business, military and faith based organizations. Any individual either residing or working in Fairfield County is eligible to participate.

Members are asked to serve on at least one of the many active committees which include Implementation, Assessment-Evaluation, Public Relations, Capacity Development, and Teen Advisory. I have chosen to serve on the Teen Advisory Committee. Our goal is to offer activities for youth aged 13 to 18. We have had much success in planning events such as skating parties, pool parties, bowling activities, a 5th quarter party at our local YMCA, and helping organize Make NOYS.

A third skating party was held last month where 265 youth enjoyed socializing with each other in a safe environment. Several youth from Teen Institute serve on our committee and help plan the activities and use their computer skills to create flyers for the events.

Throughout the year Prevention Works educates adults on their responsibilities as parents. During prom and graduation season educational information is distributed regarding Parents Who Host. Many parents erroneously believe that it is legal to offer alcohol to minors in their home, when in fact it is against the law.

Prevention Works offers training to businesses who sell alcohol called Responsible Beverage Server Training. This is a program that shows employees what to look for and how to avoid selling alcohol to minors. It also states the consequences for selling to an underage buyer.

The Coalition works with local law enforcement agencies to do compliance checks. These are spot checks of establishments who sell alcohol to determine if sales are made to minors. If abuse found, a complaint can be registered with the Department of Liquor Control, as well as possible criminal charges filed.

Other activities of Prevention Works include presentations, town hall meetings and summits, and participation in Red Ribbon events. The coalition is also a partner in newly formed S.C.A.L.E., School, Community, Agency and Law Enforcement. This is a drug prevention organization currently conducting a pilot program in Liberty Union Schools.

If you are interested in more information on the Coalition, please call 740 681-5542.

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