Friday, October 20, 2017

STEPS Community Forum 2014

On Tuesday March 4th, STEPS hosted their fourth biennial Community Forum at the Aqua Turf Club.ツ Members of the STEPS Advisory Board presented information that was collected from the Search Institute窶冱 Attitudes and Behaviors Survey that was administered to the 7th, 9th and 11th graders in the Southington Public School System.

On Tuesday March 4th, STEPS hosted their fourth biennial Community Forum at the Aqua Turf Club.ツ Members of the STEPS Advisory Board presented information that was collected from the Search Institute窶冱 Attitudes and Behaviors Survey that was administered to the 7th, 9th and 11th graders in the Southington Public School System.

The forum began with a video from the Partnership at Drugfree.org about youth prescription drug abuse.ツ It was followed by a presentation by Kelly Leppard and John Dobbinsツregarding our community’sツpast medication return programs and the Prescription Medication Drop Box, thatツwas installed in the lobby of the SouthingtonツPolice Department in October of 2012.ツ As of February 2014, the Medication Drop Box has collectedツ1,255.84 pounds of prescription medications.

During their presentation, Kelly and John also spoke on our local trends among the students that were surveyed.ツ This is the first year that data was collected regarding the prescription drug use in town and among seventh graders, 30-day use was 1%, among ninth graders it was 3% and 6% among eleventh graders.

Next, STEPS Advisory Board members Chris Palmieri, Nancy Chiero and Victoria Triano, presented the information on marijuana use in town.ツ Chris spoke on recent local and national changes in marijuana legislation over the past few years and how it is negatively affecting our community.ツ To get a better understanding ツof youths窶 perception of these legal ramifications, Nancy interviewed 11 high school students anonymously and showed that video as part of the presentation.ツ It was interesting to learn that many of the students interviewed did not know about the penalties if caught with marijuana nor that they could have their driver窶冱 license suspended.

Another alarming marijuana trend mentioned was that in all three grades surveyed, the perception of risk went down considerably since the first time the survey was administered in 2009.ツ For seventh grade the numbers went from 94% to 88%, ninth grade showed a decrease from 83% to 71% and eleventh graders went from 71% to 52% thinking it was harmful to use marijuana.ツ STEPS attributes this drop in perception of risk to the changes locally and nationally in the way that marijuana is viewed.ツ The decriminalization of the drug may be sending the youth the wrong message and this is something that STEPS hopes to focus on in the future.

The third part of the presentation focused on youth alcohol use in the community.ツツSTEPS invited 19-year-old Southington resident, Shane Mosko, to share his story about how youth alcohol use and a fateful decision in 2012 left him paralyzed from the waist down and changed his life forever.

Following Shane窶冱 presentation, STEPS Advisory Board Members ツJim Garstang and Kristen Guida, spoke about STEPS窶 efforts in the community to curb underage drinking and the results that we have seen over the past five years.ツ We found these numbers are very encouragingツin thatツacross all three of the grades surveyed, the numbers for 30-day use went down.ツ Also, youth perception of risk went up in every grade by a significant amount and youth perception of parental disapproval increased – which leads us to think that the parents and other adults in the community are sending their children a strong, consistent message that they should not be drinking.

The next area discussed at the forum was on risk-taking behaviors, which was presented by Advisory Board Member, Heather Bartley.ツ Risk-taking behaviors are behaviors such as using illicit drugs, shoplifting and violence.ツ Although the survey showed a decrease in the majority of risk-taking behaviorツcategories, evidence shows that there is much more work to be done.

To finish the night, student members Trever Rogers, Sarah Lamb and Jimmy Iovanna, ツgave presentations on the youth involvement with STEPS.ツ Today, there are over 300 kids involved, either with Youth Council, theツYouth Committee, Asset Building Classrooms, or out volunteering in the community – and we couldn窶冲 be more proud.

A very special thank you to the STEPS Forum Committee,ツ the STEPS Advisory Board, and to the Southington community for supporting our coalition and attending our forum.ツ We look forward reporting even bigger changes when our next survey is done in 2015.