Anti-drug groups tell of objectives

Editor’s note: This is the second of four stories on the Kaua’i County Drug Summit 2005, held recently at the Kauai Beach Resorts (formerly the Radisson Kauai Beach Resort near Hanama’ulu). Today’s installment is on district drug objectives. The final two articles will cover drug-treatment ideas, and enforcement and community- integration plans Implementation of Kaua’i County’s only formal antidrug plan is entering its second year, and by most accounts is a success, county leaders said.

The plan began in the fall of 2004 when leaders of the federal government provided $1.4 million, and members of the state Legislature provided $200,000.

“Kaua’i is the only county in the state to have a formal, written, anti-drug plan,” said Roy Nishida, the county’s first-ever anti-drug coordinator.

“And it’s a working document.” During the Kaua’i County Drug Summit 2005, representatives from each of the standing committees gave a review of their goals and accomplishments for the first year, and outlined what they hope to do in the second year of the plan.

Ann Wooten, group homes program coordinator with Hale ‘Opio Kaua’i, Inc., who represented the Westside, said a prevention coalition was formed last year, and three major goals were set.

One goal was to reduce alcohol and drug use by people of all ages by increasing community awareness, preventing underage access, enforcing laws, and mobilizing members of the community.

Another goal was to help youth and parents or guardians strengthen family bonds by creating opportunities for teens to contribute to the family, improve communications, and resist peer pressure.

Their final goal was to promote youth social development by creating opportunities to bond with an individual who promotes healthy beliefs and clear standards.

To achieve their first goal, members of the coalition applied for and received a state Department of Health Incentive Grant, which was used to fund various programs, including the SMART Leaders/Moves and Basic Tobacco Intervention Skills Certification, to inspire youngsters to make better choices in the area of substance use.

The money was also used to support a campaign called Ten Times Healthier Babies, whose leaders help expectant women and girls make healthy choices.

Because movie-going is such a popular activity on the island, members of the coalition purchased movie tickets along with popcorn and drink vouchers good at Waimea Theatre, and gave them to young people and members of their families who participated in a recent Make A Difference Day project.

To attain their third goal, members of the coalition provided scholarships for girls to attend the YWCA’s Girlz Zone camping event at Koke’e State Park, and also provided financial and in-kind support for Waimea High School’s Project Graduation.

Next year, members of the Westside group plan to expand membership in the coalition, educate the community about the effects of drugs and alcohol through special presentations, expand their prevention campaign, including running free, anti-drug and alcohol messages at Waimea Theatre, make office space available for more community meetings to encourage relationship-building, and maximize the use of community resources.

The spokesperson for the Eastside prevention group was Bridget Arume, Parent Community Networking Center district coordinator for the state Department of Education.

She pointed out that, while committee members in the area had the same goals as the Westside group, their approach differed from their Westside counterparts.

For one thing, members of the Eastside prevention group helped to organize a family summit that drew more than a 1,000 people, with about 70 youth volunteers.

Group members also held facilitator training sessions for Parent Project and Parent Project Jr., as well as Motheread and Fatheread training sessions, she said.

To help strengthen family bonds, members of the Eastside prevention group helped organize a tutoring program for middle- and high-school students, and worked closely with representatives of local church groups, on activities that focus on the family.

In striving towards their third goal, members of the Eastside group collaborated with representatives of several organizations on various activities, including a prevention convention sponsored by Alu Like, Inc.; and the Smart Exercise After School Program, Mentor Ohana and Aloha Peace Project, all sponsored by officials at Kahuna Valley.

For the second year, members of the Eastside group plan to continue offering Parent Project and Motheread/Fatheread training sessions, expand teen participation in community events, launch the Mentor Ohana program that links youth with adult mentors in the community, and continue supporting programs that offer bonding opportunities for youth and their families, said Arume.

Kaua’i County Council member JoAnn Yukimura spoke on behalf of the central district prevention group. She said the group members’ main focus for the first two years of the plan is to enhance student self-esteem, feelings of self-efficacy, ability to make decisions, and commitment to school, and ability to resist peer and media pressure to go down wrong roads.

Initial steps taken by members of the central group to attain this goal included developing criteria for an effective prevention program, Yukimura said.

They should be integrated into school curriculum on an ongoing basis to reach every student in the system; address state DOE standards; motivate and engage students; involve parents and guardians; inspire young people to care about their community; provide meaningful, ongoing relationships with community leaders, elders and mentors; promote self-esteem; create opportunities for growth; enhance future job possibilities; and bring accountability up and keep costs down, she said.

Another goal set by members of the central group is to support broad-based, interfaith, interracial activities for youths, to increase youth and family attachments to the community, Daubert said.

This was achieved in the first year by initiating several new programs at different schools in the district, including Life Skills provided by Kauai Economic Opportunity, Inc. leaders at Chiefess Kamakahelei Middle School; Smart Moves at Kaua’i High School provided by officials with the Boys & Girls Club of Hawaii; the YWCA’s Girlz Zone program at Chiefess Kamakahelei Middle School; and the Smart Exercise After School program provided by leaders of the Kaua’ i Academy of Creative Arts at Island School, Daubert said. The third goal targeted by members of the central group is to reduce alcohol and drug use of people of all ages by increasing community awareness, preventing underage access, enforcing laws, and mobilizing the community.

To reach this long-range goal, committee members have investigated best practices, and made recommendations on a comprehensive, integrated program.

Additionally, they consulted with county Liquor Control Commission Director Eric Honma, on enforcement ideas.

In year two, members of the central group plan to expand existing youth programs, develop a Powerpoint presentation describing their comprehensive, integrated approach to drug prevention in the central district, and make presentations to as many community groups as possible, to build support for their drug-prevention program.

. Lester Chang, staff writer, may be reached at 245-3681 (ext. 225) or lchang@kauaipubco.com

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