Sunday, April 14, 2013

Drug Store Project community organizing perspective

A school counselor from a Placer county middle school contacted me requesting
assistance with their school's drug prevention effort called "The Drug Store Project." It was
described as an experiential learning program, drawing upon substantiated prevention practices.
At both my job and internship, the focus is on treatment of substance-related issues, co-occurring
disorders, and mental health. Helping to organize and implement the prevention effort was
interesting to me because it was a chance to intervene before problems develop.
Initially the counselor and I met with an officer from the DEA who was in charge of
prevention for the county. The officer reviewed the many components of the few previous Drug
Store Projects which had taken place in Tahoe. To put on the event, we needed to enlist various
professionals from the community to participate in a theatrical presentation for students depicting
the progression from first purchase of intoxicants to an overdose. Students take part in the
presentations as well. We also had to call local businesses and request donations. While we
preferred money, many organizations donated in the form of services that they provided, or free
goods. For example Raley's donated several cases of water, a local printing company donated
free printing t-shirts, and Food Max donated hamburgers and hot dogs for the accompanying
BBQ. We spent several weeks working on donations. Eventually Wal-Mart donated a large sum
of money, as did the Firefighter's Association of Placer County.

We held meetings every two or three weeks during the semester of all those playing parts
in the Drug Store Project. Students met during school, and professionals were treated to lunch ateach meeting as a token of appreciation. The event will take place on May 27th. The afternoon
before there will be a dry-run in which all the actors practice their role, and the final logistics
will be discussed.

One downside is that there are no evaluation measures planned, aside from a student
survey at the end of the prevention effort. Students will be asked to report their thoughts on
effective and ineffective portions of the presentation, and add any suggestions. From the articles
I pulled for the class presentation, I learned that probably the best way to evaluate prevention
effectiveness is through the implementation of an experiment. Students could be divided into two
or more groups, with one group being the control and receiving no prevention. Follow up
surveys of substance use and substance-related consequences of the students could be used to
measure the dependent variable.

If asked to evaluate myself in this community organizing project, I would give myself
full credit. It has been a rewarding opportunity, with the true reward (and the work) next week
during the presentation. There have been many instances to network with other professionals and
build my agency's rapport with the community, especially because we are helping for free.

No comments:

Post a Comment