CHEC Coalition Committee

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Since 1986 a local group known as the AHM Substance Abuse and Violence Prevention Task Force have worked together to minimize the impact of drug and alcohol use and abuse in the regional community.  Today our efforts are increased to incorporate community wellness with an emphasis on helping to keep youth drug free.

The parent organization of this group, AHM Youth and Family Services was awarded a federal grant, one of fewer than 200 nationwide communities to help combat local underage drinking, prescription drug abuse and the prevention of marijuana use.  The grant award, which is for five consecutive years, is funded through the Office of National Drug Control Policy and the Drug-Free Communities Support Program.

The name CHEC came about through the collaborative efforts of members that serve on this community coalition.  The idea of the name change came about after many parents in the communities expressed ideas on ways to expand membership and support for AHM’s efforts to help keep children and teens drug-free.  Throughout the second year of this grant, the coalition will be present at an ever increasing number of community events such as school open houses, farmers markets, town wide celebrations, and youth sporting events.  The idea is to help reach a new generation of families living in the regional community to share important wellness resources on parenting and health related topics.

“Welcome 2 Reality” Social Media Presentations

Welcome 2 Reality gave two 45-minute presentations that increased awareness and strengthened skills in responding to vulnerabilities of individuals related to social media, internet safety, and media literacy. Topics touched upon were cyberbullying, media marketing and advertisement, music’s impact on values and behavior, and the desensitization of violence via video games. Risk factors associated with social media and technology were identified and reasonable alternatives that can lessen people’s overexposure to these outlets were provided. Per Welcome to Reality, “Overexposure to certain media outlets can have the ability to influence how people make decisions on moral issues, peer relationships, and value systems. We know this to be particularly true with individuals who have experienced trauma and significant losses among other things associated with today’s ever-changing world of technology.” 

CADCA Mid-Year Training in Orlando

AHM Youth & Family Services was represented at the CADCA Mid-Year Training in Orlando, FL from July 17 – 21, 2022 with AHM Board Member, Brenda Bula, AHM Youth Board Member, Christina Leshak, SOAR Youth Group Member, Sydney Bula and Jenn Boehler, AHM Prevention Coordinator in attendance.  CADCA is an acronym used in the prevention world and is associated with a focused, energetic group of professionals working with the mission to strengthen the capacity of community coalitions to create and maintain safe, healthy and drug-free communities globally. In addition, CADCA is a non-profit and provides technical assistance and training, public policy advocacy, media strategies and marketing programs, training and special events. This mid-year training encompasses all of this! CADCA stands for Community Anti-Drug Coalitions of America.

The focus for the youth members during the CADCA Youth Leadership Training was to dive in to the Strategic Prevention Framework (SPF) and how it applies to our community. Why is SPF important? AHM Youth & Family Services was awarded the Drug Free Community (DFC) grant and for the past 8 years we utilized the SPF that was developed by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health services Administration (SAMHSA).  

The SPF details how coalitions can craft environmental strategies tailored to each community’s characteristics. The SPF assists community coalitions in developing the infrastructure needed for community-based, public health approaches that can lead to effective and sustainable reductions in alcohol, tobacco and other drug (ATOD) use and abuse.  

The five elements of the SPF are:

1. Assessment. Collect data to define problems, resources, and readiness within a geographic area to address needs and gaps. 

2. Capacity. Mobilize and/or build capacity within a geographic area to address needs. 

3. Planning. Develop a comprehensive strategic approach that includes policies, programs, and practices creating a logical, data-driven plan to address problems identified in the assessment. 

4. Implementation. Implement evidence-based prevention strategies, programs, policies and practices. 

5. Evaluation. Measure the impact of the SPF and the implementation of strategies, programs, policies and practices. The elements of sustainability and cultural competence (central to community-based approaches) are in the center of SPF, which indicates their importance to each of the other elements. The environmental strategies approach recognizes that risks associated with substance use are, in part, a function of the interplay between the environments where youth use and the substances he/she uses (agent). In the environmental approach, place matters. The ability to shape individual’s behavior by structuring what is expected or permitted in specific environments can reduce alcohol- and other drug-related problem.”  Cited CADCA website 2022 

The AHM’s youths’ focus was vaping.  They considered our three towns and decided on the town to focus on, when and where the vaping would most likely happen, aka “hot spots” and a plan to reduce the vaping.  This fall the AHM SOAR Youth Group will review the 2022 Youth Voices Count Survey (a key resource that drives are strategic planning) results and will decide to move forward with the suggested plan created at the CADCA mid-year training conference to reduce vaping or to use the SPF and focus on another area that may be a standout from the YVCS. 

Throughout the week, the AHM Team had conversations with members from across the country and learned that all coalitions are the same because every coalition is unique and having their own successes and challenges.. AHM Youth & Family Services in partnership with the Coalition for a Healthy & Empowered Community and the SOAR Youth Group will continue our work with the support of community members of all ages. We will target parents and caregivers with children in grade school, middle school and high school to provide prevention educational resources to help them navigate this important time in their child’s life to share the risks of alcohol and substance use as it affects the body, mind and personal life. 

Prevention Coordinator:
Ashlee Parks

Contact: 860-228-9488, x22


2023-2024 Committee Meetings

Meetings are held on the first Wednesday of each month via Zoom.  If you are a community member and would like to attend a meeting, please contact the AHM CHEC Coordinator, Ashlee Parks.

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Meeting ID: 823 2957 2860
Password: 242582
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This shocking fact was shared by the CT Overdose Response Strategy (CTORS). Read the full report & share with friends & family!