School district forming coalition for health

In an effort to define what makes a healthy community, Washougal has been selected for a statewide grant that will focus on prevention and intervention.

It is one of two cities in Clark County, and 12 in the state, that were chosen for the 4-year Prevention Redesign Initiative.

“Washougal was selected based on community readiness and responsiveness,” said Camille Saari, who will coordinate the local grant.

She spoke at the Washougal School District board meeting last week.

Saari works for the Clark County Community Development Department. She will help put together a community coalition that will implement a public health model.

“We want to involve law enforcement, parents, students, school employees and civic groups,” Saari said.

The first step is a community coalition meeting, which will be held at 4 p.m. Thursday, May 31, at the East County Family Resource Center, 1702 “C” St., Washougal.

The grant itself involves a three-step process: The first is to meet and set goals, the second is to gather data to find out what needs in the community should be addressed, and the third is to implement the plan.

“It’s going to be a four-year process,” Saari said. “Right now, we’re looking for volunteers to come to the meetings and get started.”

Saari will be joined by Julie Vanover, a prevention/intervention specialist from Educational Service District 112, who works with students at Jemtegaard Middle School and Washougal High School.

“Right now I am implementing a ‘Project Success’ program for students in sixth to 12th grade and this grant ties in with that,” she said. “We are here to give kids different ideas and show them how healthy lifestyles work.”

Currently, Vanover’s work includes a curriculum based prevention program, school-wide activities such as Challenge Day or Red Ribbon Week, a parent program and group counseling.

She and Saari are hoping to have a rough draft of a public health model by October.

“Right now, there are 12 different communities throughout the state going through this process,” Saari told board members. “And some of (the representatives) haven’t had the opportunity to even connect with the school district, let alone present in front of the board. There are some great things going on here.”

For more information or to volunteer, contact Saari at 936-6374 or Vanover at 954-3156.

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