Coalition could have a lasting impact

There is no greater resource and asset in our community than our children.

As parents, they are our everything. They add a new sense of purpose and meaning to our lives. And as a community, children are the future. The quality of their lives today have a very good chance of impacting how Camas and Washougal will look into the future and beyond.

As important as our children are, their lives are also fragile. Even with the best parenting, they can go off track and make bad decisions that can have lasting impacts.

Drug and alcohol use are two of the triggers that have the potential to take a child off course. Studies show that children who abuse drugs and alcohol are at higher risk of committing crimes, developing addictions, dropping out of school, engaging in risky behaviors, and being seriously injured or killed.

As profiled in an article in today’s Post-Record, in an effort to address the issue of youth substance abuse, a new state program is being implemented at the local level. It aims to address those issues and steer young people, who might otherwise be at risk, in the right direction.

A Washougal-based coalition was funded and formed in May 2012, and is part of the state division of Behavioral Heath and Recovery’s “Prevention Redesign Initiative.” It’s a community-focused approach to preventing substance abuse in Washington state.

From alcohol and tobacco to prescription drugs and illicit drugs, misuse and abuse of these substances has impacts far beyond the individual. It is the goal of the Prevention Redesign Initiative to redirect state prevention funding to better target and leverage limited prevention resources, and direct those resources into local schools and the community.

The local group is currently working on one of the most important aspects of its work — information gathering. Specifically, this focuses on discovering what are the community attitudes surrounding underage drinking. The survey is available online at www.surveymonkey.com/s/washougalcoalition2013.

The work this coalition of local leaders is doing has the potential to have major positive impacts. Their efforts need to be supported by the community as a whole. The lives of our children are more than worth it.

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