Communities coalition going to the White House

GREENFIELD — A Greenfield nonprofit working to reduce youth substance use and promote positive youth development will have a chance to offer input on national education policy at a one-day summit at the White House on Tuesday.

The Communities That Care Coalition, a collaboration of dozens of Franklin County and North Quabbin agencies including schools, human-service agencies, law enforcement and town governments, was invited to the White House to speak at a summit on prevention in education.

Co-chair of Communities That Care Coalition, Kat Allen, will represent the coalition in a panel demonstrating one of four successful programs. Other programs include a recovery high school, a school-linked juvenile justice reform program and a school implementing Brief Screening and Intervention.

The summit is designed to catalyze the prevention platform for the country for the coming years.

“It’s a great honor to be able to have input on national policy,” Allen said.

The summit is co-hosted by the Federal Department of Education and the Office of National Drug Control Policy.

Among those in attendance will be 30 of the top policy makers in education and in youth substance abuse prevention.

The summit will include a discussion of the importance of prioritizing prevention in education.

The coalition caught the attention of the Community Anti-Drug Coalitions of America, the Stanford Social Innovation Review and the Office of National Drug Control Policy for its work, which led to the invitation.

The coalition was formed in 2002 to address alcohol, tobacco and other drug use among youth.

Since 2003, the coalition had been working to decrease four substance abuse behaviors. These include alcohol use, tobacco use, marijuana use in the past 30 days among eighth graders, and binge drinking in the past two weeks among 12th-graders.

According to a 2013 teen health survey, the coalition was successful over the course of the decade with those activities decreasing by 47 percent, 48 percent, 43 percent and 46 percent respectively.

Much of the coalition’s work is in partnership with public schools, police, the district attorney’s office and faith-based organizations. It has over 140 members.

“We think of it as pieces of a puzzle. Everyone has different pieces. The coalition pulls it together into the big picture,”Allen said.

Some programs include police departments’ compliance checks on alcohol vendors, the drug take-back program by the Northwestern District Attorney’s office and the education-based prevention curriculum in schools.

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