Ashtabula County Prevention Coalition History, Challenges, and Impact
In response to a local opiate-related tragedy, 170 and stakeholders attended the Coalition’s first county-wide Opiate Summit in October 2011, positioning Ashtabula County Prevention Coalition (ACPC) as a viable coalition focused on youth substance abuse prevention.
Supported by the Ashtabula County Mental Health and Recovery Services Board and a Drug-Free Communities grant, ACPC’s strong volunteer corps and diverse membership are led by a 12-sector Leadership Board. Two staff and six committees (Leadership, Communications, Resources and Sustainability, Evaluation and Planning, Training, and Membership) manage its Action Plan.
ACPC informed thousands of county youth and adults via medical disposal and overdose prevention information distribution campaigns, “We Do Recovery” video screenings, and several signage campaigns: “Why 21” alcohol awareness signage on 6 buses, alcohol awareness posters in 200 public restrooms, and prevention displays at 6 alcohol retailers and 30 community events.
ACPC brought community leaders’ and stakeholders’ attention to youth substance use issues during nearly 100 public speaking engagements with Rotary and Kiwanis groups, the Archway Institutes, Chamber of Commerce, local foundations, school guidance counselors and principals, ministerial associations, County Commissioners, school superintendents, 4-H advisors, state-funded Start Talking! youth prevention campaign, Sunrise Life and Heart to Heart shows on Conneaut Cable Access Television, an annual Overdose Awareness event, Health and Safety Fairs, Ashtabula County Fair, and others.
ACPC increased Coalition membership 20% and had productive discussions with community leaders resulting from Remote Area Medical events, an opioid-focused Town Hall hosted by Ohio Attorney General’s staff, and other events.
The Prevention Coalition with the financial support of the Mental Health and Recovery Services Board also supports and facilitates training in the Pax Good Behavior Game. The PAX Good Behavior Game® is a powerful evidence-based practice, consisting of proven instructional and behavioral health strategies used daily by teachers and students in the classroom. This universal preventive approach not only improves classroom behavior and academics but also provides a lifetime of benefits for every child by improving self-regulation and co-regulation with peers. Children, their families, teachers, and society benefit for decades as a result. Since 1999, PAX Good Behavior Game has been used in thousands of classrooms, in 38 states, Canada, Ireland, Estonia, Sweden, and Australia. PAX GBG is the official Good Behavior Game® used at Johns Hopkins University for ongoing research.
Also, the Coalition and the MHRS Board sponsor PAX Tools training. This training is a 2-hour course for parents and other interested community members that work with or have children in their lives. It teaches PAX strategies that the family can use that mirror the one that the teaches use in school. Ashtabula County currently has 2 local PAX Tools instructors available to provide local training upon request.
In addition to CADCA and state-funded prevention training, ACPC enhanced 300 professional educators’ prevention & reduction skills using Mental Health First Aid, PAX Good Behaviors Game, and the Prevention, Awareness, Recovery & Treatment (PART)Conference resources.
ACPC also enhanced 100 parents’ and caregivers’ skills using PAX Tools; students’ skills in all seven school districts using Botvin Life Skills; 150 beverage servers’ awareness & prevention skills; and 50 parent and youth prevention strategies skills during a Hope for Hearts event.
The PAX Good Behavior Game is an Evidence-based Practice that comes recommended by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Service Administration (SAMHSA).
ACPC impacts local school environments as well as collaboration and resiliency within local communities by supporting the following:
- Youth Leadership participants in their youth-led projects regarding Mental Health and Substance Use prevention among youth
- Conneaut City Schools’ One Step after school program
- Ohio CAN (Change Addiction Now) local Steps of Change Awareness event
- Kids and Cops weekend campout
- Elevation’s awareness and prevention efforts in Conneaut, including Help Summit, Community Update Summit, school assembly presentations, “Light the Night” memorial, and pre-prom Drunk Driving Simulators for Conneaut and Buckeye school districts
- School-based Life Consequences awareness and education program
- Longest Day of Play healthy lifestyle programming
- Building Resiliency Together personal & community assets programming
- JDAI juvenile diversion efforts
- County-wide Substance Abuse Leadership Team (SALT)
- Health department’s tobacco prevention initiatives
- Nar-Anon’s Walk Against Heroin
Enhancing Access & Reducing Barriers
ACPC enhances access via its monthly newsletter, a substance use resource manual that guides residents to community supports, Your Life Matters cards illustrating signs and symptoms of an overdose for first responders and others, and Medicine Disposal Boxes placement (increased from one to six). In addition, ACPC provides Deterra drug disposal bags and access to Narcan and addresses the stigma of substance use disorder during annual professional and community trainings and through its coproduced “We Do Recovery” video.
In collaboration with Ashtabula County Juvenile Courts, local law enforcement, and local mental health agencies, ACPC is strengthening community supports and educating youth on the legal consequences for AOD-abusing youth. This program is presented in conjunction with the Botvin Lifeskills training in the High Schools or as part of their prevention education. In addition, the Coalition invests in school staff training through the annual PART Conference and works closely with junior high and high school administrators to affect the school environment and change consequences there.
Finally, ACPC’s community-based education and training programs, including efforts to reduce stigma surrounding substance use, help families and communities recognize signs & symptoms, pull together, and work through issues.
Changing Physical Design
The Coalition increased Medication Disposal Boxes in the county from one to six; disbursed more than 1,600 Medicine Disposal bags throughout the county; and worked with Elevation to celebrate Red Ribbon Week in Conneaut.
Modifying & Changing Policies
ACPC and its DFC-collaborating partner the Ashtabula County Mental Health and Recovery Services Board (“County Services Board”) co-sponsor annual proclamations made by the County Commissioners, including Red Ribbon Week, Alcohol Awareness Month, Overdose Awareness Day. Furthermore, the Coalition’s Media Sector representative ensured that the County Fair would be an alcohol-free, family-friendly event for the past four years.
Coalition Mission Statement and Eligibility
As stated in its Mission statement “to implement effective, evidence-based strategies in order to prevent and reduce high risk behaviors and substance abuse among youth in Ashtabula County” – ACPC’s principal mission is to reduce youth substance use, including the use and abuse of drugs in a comprehensive, long-term manner, with a primary focus on youth.