Janesville47.7°

Partners in Prevention given $75,000 grant

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Catherine W. Idzerda
September 7, 2010
— It’s not necessary to reinvent the wheel.

It’s been done, and now you can pick from a thousand sizes, tread patterns and colors to find one that’s right for you.


That’s the idea behind a mentoring grant given to Partners in Prevention-Rock County by the White House Office of National Drug Control Policy.


The $75,000 grant was one of 15 given out nationwide to groups that work for drug free and safe communities.


Partners in Prevention-Rock County will use the money to mentor the newly formed Evansville group, Building A Safer Evansville (BASE), explained Kathy Comeau, Partners in Prevention project coordinator.


Kathi Kemp, director of Eager Free Public Library, helped organize the group earlier this year. Part of the impetus was a “Youth At Risk” survey.


“People were really shocked at the number of kids that have considered suicide—young kids, too, in middle school, “Kemp said.


The city has also struggled with “at least two” suicides in the past year and an accident in which a young man died.


“It was very painful, very difficult,” Kemp said. “We’re a small town here; everybody has some kind of knowledge of everybody else.”


And, like many other Wisconsin communities, Evansville struggles with both underage and adult alcohol use.


“Nobody drinks like they do in Wisconsin,” Kemp said. “It’s like every social gathering has to have alcohol.”


Alcohol isn’t inherently bad. The problem arises when excessive drinking becomes the norm rather than the exception.


“People don’t just have a few drinks,” Kemp said.


The grant money will be used for a project coordinator to help BASE establish itself as an active organization, not one that pays lip service to an idea.


That’s where choosing a wheel—instead of reinventing one—comes in.


“We’ll start by teaching the coalition what’s called the ‘strategic prevention framework,”’ Comeau said.


That framework, which was developed by the US Department of Health and Human Services, follows a four-step process that’s been successful in other communities: assessing the community, finding out how ready people are to address a specific issue such as drug or alcohol use, getting all the right players on board and creating a plan.


The youth risk survey might serve as the group’s initial community easement, and Kemp and others have also worked to connect with the local players such as police officers, the municipal judge, educators and parents.


The coordinator is scheduled to start his or her work sometime in October.



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