Prevention in Progress

By Shari L. Johnson, Director, Calhoun Middle High School Youth Force

In the fall of 2005 the Calhoun Middle High School Youth Force Committee was formed by stakeholders in the community with a desire to determine what key problems the community faces and then pursue prevention and education measures to tackle the issues before they become a problem.

The committee received a $25,725 planning grant through the West Virginia Partnership to Promote Community Well Being. The funding source was authorized under Section 516 of the Public Health Service Act, the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) Center for Substance Abuse Prevention (CSAP).

Fifty-three out of West Virginia's fifty-five counties received funding.

The purpose of this grant is to spend one year planning the program best suited for our community in order to address substance abuse related issues.

Community data is compiled and then shared at Monthly Regional learning opportunities, where members of the CMHS Youth Force join with community leaders from other counties in the region to discuss successes and failures in individual communities.

Following this year of planning the Youth Force should have a strategic plan in place and be in the running for funding for four years of implementation of the project.

The Youth Force Project is currently active in the community through projects such as the Town Hall Meetings, educating the community to the dangers of underage consumption of alcohol, and plans are underway for a summer school program on substance abuse education.

The Calhoun Middle High School Youth Force Committee is made up of the following community leaders: David Johnson, 911 Director; James Garretson, Volunteer Fire Department Board; Matthew Minney, Prosecuting Attorney; Richard Postalwait, Magistrate; Mike Offutt, Calhoun Middle High School Principle; Karen Kirby, CMHS Assistant Principle; Carrie Brainard, Mid Ohio Valley Health Department; Jeffrey Himes, WVU Extension Agent; Kevin Cunningham, HRDF, Inc.; Craig Gherke, Calhoun EMS; Barbara McKown, Minnie Hamilton Health Care Center; Sandra Osborne, FRN; Jean Simers, Heads Up Director; and three students from the Calhoun Middle High School.

The Calhoun Middle High School Youth Force will meet again on Thursday, May 4th in the Magistrate Clerk's Office at 10 a.m. Anyone in the community interested in this project is welcome to attend.

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