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Grant awarded to support Hubbard in Prevention

Angela Graham, grant coordinator for CHI St. Joseph’s Health Community Health, will continue to lead Hubbard in Prevention and the coalition's new five-year Drug-Free Communities grant. (Kevin Cederstrom/Enterprise)

A new grant awarded to CHI-St. Joseph's will provide funds to continue drug and alcohol use prevention efforts among youth in Hubbard County.

The National Drug Control Policy grant will fund Hubbard in Prevention (HIP), which will receive $625,000 in funds for the Drug-Free Communities (DFC) Support Program. The Park Rapids and Hubbard County coalition is one of 698 communities in the country awarded the DFC grant.

The DFC grant continues efforts by HIP and expands the scope from alcohol to include marijuana and prescription drug use prevention.

HIP recently completed a similar five-year grant for youth alcohol use prevention and education. "Our goal is to make Hubbard County a safe and drug-free place for our youth," said Angela Graham, Grant Coordinator, CHI St. Joseph's Health Community Health. "Prevention is a powerful tool to counteract prescription drug misuse and other youth substance use in our community, and we will use this funding to help youth in Hubbard County to make healthy choices about substance use."

Graham said the coalition will continue to focus on its goals to increase community collaboration and reduce youth substance abuse in Hubbard County.

"The grant will allow us to continue our prevention education working in our community," Graham said. "We've come so far the last five years. The coalition has worked hard at educating the youth in our community about the harms of youth substance abuse."

Data gathered by the coalition indicates education and prevention efforts are working in Hubbard County. According to the Hubbard in Prevention annual report, one example is the percentage of Park Rapids 7th and 8th grade students who say they never drink alcohol increased from 60 percent in 2012 to 76 percent in 2016.

Graham said the trend data suggests there are fewer students drinking and that's a result of the coalition's prevention strategies.

"Hubbard In Prevention (HIP) Coalition members will continue to provide education to our community members, parents, and youth in Hubbard County. The coalition has played a strong role in raising awareness about the harms of substance use. It's all about providing tools and support, because this can be a difficult subject to talk about," Graham said.

The DFC grant starts in October. Graham said she and coalition members will receive training for the requirements of the new grant.

"This will be a new adventure into prevention and I will be learning a lot in the next couple months on how the DFC grant works," she said. "I'm very excited to learn and share and continue the work with everybody to reduce youth substance use in Hubbard County. "

HIP will use a comprehensive approach in working with the local media, law enforcement, schools, government and community organizations to reach two specific goals.

The first goal, according to Graham, is to increase community collaboration through education, modify/change policies and build relationships. The second goal is to reduce youth substance use by reducing access and enhancing barriers, enforcing laws prohibiting the sale of alcohol to minors, supporting law enforcement in conducting alcohol compliance checks, providing responsible beverage server trainings. Part of the second goal is to provide educational material and resources that will cover topics such as enhancing skills, knowledge, and confidence, to assist in reducing youth substance abuse, and the consequences, risks, and harms of substance use to youth and adults.

Michael Botticelli, Director of National Drug Control Policy (ONDCP), announced $85.9 million in grants for 698 Drug-Free Communities (DFC) Support Programs across the country.

Prescription drug misuse prevention is one of the core measures of effectiveness for local DFC coalitions, and coalitions nationwide have led innovative opioid prevention initiatives.