In 2012, the Stockbridge Wellness Coalition created a plan to promote health and wellness across the community, and encourage residents to eat better, move more, avoid unhealthy substances, and connect with others in healthy ways. The Avoid Unhealthy Substances sub-committee decided to focus their efforts on youth, reaching kids before substance use starts, and encouraging them stay drug-free through adolescence and into adulthood. To do this, they applied for a grant through the Chelsea-Area Wellness Foundation (now known as the 5 Healthy Towns Foundation), and looked to a neighboring community with a successful youth substance abuse prevention effort, known as SRSLY.
What sets SRSLY apart from prevention efforts that have already been tried is its positive focus and youth leadership. SRSLY has support from the schools, law enforcement, faith community, businesses, library, parents, and youth; this large-scale, community-wide support really sets the stage for long-lasting positive change.
After receiving the Chelsea-Area Wellness Foundation grant in 2012, the coalition focused on assessment, capacity building, and planning with a target launch of programs and activities in the fall of 2013. Local data and focus groups were utilized to get a better understanding of the key issues as they relate to substance abuse. This data identified specific concerns and community strengths that would guide the long-range planning, programming, and evaluation of success. The result of this needs assessment was a problem statement, with prioritized contributing risk and protective factors.