Battle Ground alliance aims to prevent drug abuse

Group also will focus on such community issues as suicide, violence and obesity

By Patty Hastings, Columbian breaking news reporter

Published:

 

If you go

What: A night when parents can learn about drug trends, preventing drug use among teens and signs of drug use.

When: 7 to 9 p.m. Thursday, Nov. 29.

Where: Prairie High School media center, 11500 N.E. 117th Ave.

Who: Presented by Prairie High School prevention intervention specialist Sharice Lee and Clark County Sheriff’s Deputy Dwaine Bowden.

Did you know ?

• You can drop off unwanted, unused and expired prescription drugs at the Battle Ground Police Station, and the Clark County Sheriff’s Office will incinerate them for you.

Battle Ground is developing a prevention alliance focused on creating a better community by reducing substance abuse.

The county's substance abuse prevention coalition, PREVENT!, received a Drug Free Communities Support Program Grant and a "mentoring grant" through the Office of National Drug Control Policy. The coalition is using the money to help both Battle Ground and Skamania County apply for their own $500,000 drug-free communities grants for 2013.

Through the mentoring grant, the Prevent Together: Battle Ground Prevention Alliance was born.

"Battle Ground is a community that has a lot of energy," said Sean Chavez, PREVENT! coalition coordinator at ESD 112.

He said the top issues the county coalition tackles are underage drinking, marijuana use and prescription drug abuse. The Battle Ground Prevention Alliance is still very much in its infancy, but it looks to emulate PREVENT!'s work. Battle Ground, Chavez said, is focusing some specific efforts on the relationship between prescription drug use and heroin use.

In April, Chavez approached Cindi Schroeder, prevention educator with the Battle Ground Public Schools, about forming a prevention alliance. She pulled together resources and people from around the community, including Mayor Lisa Walters, to help develop the alliance.

Through a strategic branding effort, the alliance got its name and an official logo.

Walters went to a large anti-drug conference in Nashville to get training on prevention science. The main focus of prevention work is to change the social environment, Chavez said.

"We look at policies and procedures, trainings on best practices, cultural norms and support systems for positive, healthy development," he said.

Schroeder has been a prevention educator with the Battle Ground school district for 15 years and has worked with PREVENT! for seven years. She teaches students about gateway drugs and refusal skills, and she is involved in other educational substance prevention programs. She's been spreading the word about Prevent Together and said it's garnering a lot of support.

"I was pretty excited about it, because I knew there are so many caring community members," she said. "They really care about their youth."

A growing group of involved community members is working to develop Prevent Together's mission. Prevention trainer Sandra Storm is teaching the group prevention science and how to do coalition work.

While the drug-free communities grant is only for substance abuse prevention, the alliance will work to address multiple community issues such as suicide, violence and obesity.

"There's obviously a lot of passion around these issues," Chavez said.

Though the alliance is community-based, not school-based, Schroeder hopes to get plenty of student involvement.

Battle Ground Police Chief Bob Richardson said having a local prevention alliance means people won't have to drive outside the city for resources. "North County up here is sometimes limited in resources we have access to," he said.

Once the program is fully developed, Richardson said officers can refer people to the program when they're out in the field.

Prevent Together will submit their application for the $500,000 grant in March.

"Even if we don't get the grant, we're going to continue with the coalition," Schroeder said.

Anyone interested in joining the coalition can email coordinator Sean Chavez at sean.chavez@esd112.org or call ESD 112 at 360-750-7500.