Mobilizing the Community for Positive Change
The Spearfish Community Coalition is a volunteer driven non-profit organization whose mission is to mobilize the community to support positive, healthy and drug free youth. Having been in existence in some form since the early 1980’s, the Coalition has come a long way in prevention. Coalition efforts began and have been focused in the past on tobacco prevention efforts and the push to create smoke free restaurants and public spaces. Today, our work plan includes efforts to reduce our number one concern of underage alcohol use, as well as education and eradication of synthetic drugs, establishing safe disposal of prescription drugs and limiting the accessibility to our youth, and of course continued efforts to reduce tobacco use among youth and the harmful effects of second hand smoke.
In 2009, the Spearfish Community Coalition was formalized under a Drug Free Communities grant through the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA). For the fourth year, this grant has awarded $125,000 to SCC to work on building coalition capacity and reducing youth substance abuse on a community level. Thus far, the coalition continues to build a strong prevention group including many sectors of the community and grow in the prevention field. In 2011, the coalition sought and received their 501c3 nonprofit status and continues to work toward independent sustainability.
The Coalition has partnered with the Spearfish School District for the past three years in tobacco prevention efforts through the South Dakota State Tobacco Control Program’s Community/School Partnership grant. This grant has awarded Spearfish $25,000 to address second hand smoke, youth tobacco prevention, cessation efforts, the TEAMMATES program, LifeSkills Curriculum, policy development, tobacco free parks and tobacco free multi-unit housing in 2013.
The Coalition functions through the Strategic Prevention Framework, which includes assessment, capacity building, planning, implementation, evaluation and sustainability. SCC focus’ on seven strategies of prevention including information dissemination, enhancing skills, providing pro-social support, changing physical design, reducing access and enhancing barriers, changing consequences, and modifying or changing policy. Through these seven strategies, the Coalition can address individual change as well as community level change.
Current Coalition initiatives include creating tobacco free parks and play areas. With the partnership in the CDC’s Healthy Communities ACHIEVE grant, the Coalition is working to create policies for tobacco free parks, specifically those with children’s play areas. This will include signage designating Young Lungs at Play as well as community enforced public policy to ensure tobacco, namely smoking, is not occurring near play structures or in public parks.
A second initiative, called Parents Who Host, Lose the Most, focuses on reducing the instances of parents or adults hosting parties where alcohol is present for minors. This effort is in conjunction with the proposed Social Host Law, that at the time of publication was set to be heard in the Legislature.
Finally, the Coalition is working on an initiative called Positive Community Norms. This effort focuses on changing community misperceptions that all kids drink, or smoke or are in trouble, to correct perceptions that most kids do not engage in risky behaviors.
There are many ways to get involved with the Spearfish Community Coalition. Committees that meet frequently include Policy, Capacity and Collaboration, Social Media and Asset Building. In addition, the Coalition provides safe, drug free activities for youth, community education presentations, community speakers, prescription drug takeback events, and Youth Leadership events. The general coalition meets every third Tuesday at 7 am at the Spearfish Rec Center and noon at various locations. The Coalition also holds a 9 member Board of Directors and is always looking for new members. The Youth Empowerment Team is a key aspect of the Spearfish Community Coalition which consists of youth in grades 6-12. Through the YET, the coalition can provide a voice to youth, teach leadership skills, educate, inspire and mentor Spearfish youth in a positive manner. The YET meets twice a month and organizes a variety of activities.
The ultimate goal is to provide a safe, healthy community for our children to grow, learn and lead in the future. These efforts cannot be done alone. It takes many people in the community working together to succeed. The coalition strives to include active representation from parents, media, businesses, law enforcement, schools, youth serving organizations, civic/volunteer organizations, health care professionals, state and local government agencies, religious organizations, those involved in reducing substance abuse and most importantly, youth.
For more information about the Spearfish Community Coalition, please visit www.SpearfishCommunityCoalition.com or find us on Facebook. You may also contact Melissa Currier, Executive Director, at 605-717-1417, or via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.