SCOTT COUNTY, Ind.—The EMPOWER Youth Coalition was created as part of the Scott County Drug Free Communities Support Program initiative of the CEASe Coalition. Their mission is aligning youth with their community to create a powerful impact through prevention, health improvement, and positive relationships. They chose the name EMPOWER because it encourages and equips Scott County youth with the tools to live healthy, safe, and drug-free lives.
Despite the limitations that COVID-19 has placed on their coalition activities, the ‘Youth Work Group’ comprised of EMPOWER members has achieved some great results. This past spring they not only held planning meetings, but also wrote a CEASe grant to put on a resilience building event, giving Scott County middle school youth the opportunity to learn essential skills, such as public speaking, flexibility, poise/manners, discipline, respect, and resilience, called ‘The Amazing Shake’ (open to all county middle school students).
In addition, EMPOWER held planning meetings and wrote a Scott County Youth Grant-Making Council Grant for $300 to put on a Town Hall Meeting as a platform to discuss youth alcohol use and premiere their Resilience short films, this coming September.
EMPOWER Intern, Lyndie Foster, worked with the Community Education Work Group and created a powerpoint training on ‘Parenting Practices to Help Reduce the Chances Your Child will Develop a Drug or Alcohol Problem’ to be utilized in training Scott County service providers to assist in teaching parents, grandparents, caregivers, and foster parents about substance use prevention. Lyndie also created social media posts promoting National Prevention Week and National Drug and Alcohol Facts Week.
During this time of weekly virtual Leadership Meetings and monthly virtual EMPOWER membership meetings, the youth have also spent time updating the EMPOWER App, called EMPOWER Scott County, with new ways to earn points that can be traded in for incentives.
The public relations committee has continued positive social media messaging posts on ways to build resilience during the pandemic, including offering webinar links to increase youth resilience and prevention. By attending these webinars, youth can earn points to trade in for prizes on the EMPOWER App.
EMPOWER held their own t-shirt design contest encouraging youth to create a unique t-shirt design with a positive prevention message. Members of the Leadership Team voted and the winner received a $200 Amazing Gift Card.
The EMPOWER Jr. curriculum was finalized and on-boarding items (t-shirts and rubber wristbands) were ordered for this brand new youth coalition starting this coming fall in all county elementary schools among 4th and 5th grader students.
EMPOWER selected and purchased on-boarding items for the upcoming school year to incentivize their peers to be a part of positive resilience building activities, reviewed and selected leadership, as well as developed recruitment plans for next school year. They also distributed stickers among local businesses to promote EMPOWER with their patrons, and mailed/emailed a letter to the President of NBC sharing their concerns over a Saturday Night Live skit on ‘Let Kids Drink’ that condones parents giving alcohol to their children during the quarantine.
Scott County youth (grades 6-12) who would like to get involved with EMPOWER should text @YOUTH823 to 81010 or text DFC Youth Coordinator, Melinda Lowry, at 812-595-6213.