Groups come together for youth health

February 13, 2019

GERING — Region 1 Behavioral Health, the Monument Prevention Coalition and four other prevention coalitions in the Panhandle are working together on a project that could see the Human Performance Project become evidence-based within Nebraska.

Prevention funding from the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMSA) and through the Department of Health and Human Services Division of Behavioral Health, five counties received a new five-year Partnership for Success (PFS) block grant.

Jessica Haebe, prevention coordinator for Region 1 Behavioral Health, said the counties wanted to do something new. Coalitions within those counties looked at the best way to use the funds. Many groups in the Panhandle have used the Human Performance Project (HPP) yet the state has made clear they will not fund it because it is not evidence-based.

HPP is the extended project of Life of an Athlete. John Underwood, founder of American Athletic Institute, started Life of an Athlete because research showed that athletes were the largest abusers of alcohol.

Haebe said the Panhandle has always led in innovation and trying new approaches and this endeavor is no different.

“We believe in HPP and said if we really believe in it, let’s do this,” Haebe said. “The five counties pulled together to find a way to make HPP evidence-based and then give it to the state.”

Lanette Richards, project coordinator for Monument Prevention Coalition, said while MPC is focused on only underage drinking and other coalitions have priorities relevant to their locations, it is a good thing to sit down and work on a project together for the benefit of the entire state. She also has local entities and government who assist in ways the PFS grant cannot.

“We are fortunate that we have towns in the county that support our work so that money can be used on things that aren’t covered in the grant,” Richards said.

Haebe said the best part about the grant is that they already have some data collected with HPP over the past several years that has been promoted and used in Panhandle schools.

“There are a certain set of criteria to get the data that shows how it works and the demographics that it works for,” Haebe said.

Other programs, such as Red Ribbon Week, are not evidence-based and the State of Nebraska no longer supports it. That program is no longer used across the state, Haebe said. The coalitions and Region 1 are hopeful for the future of HPP.

“It could not make it through the process,” Haebe said. “But we will try and see.”

Haebe said one of the benefits or working toward HPP becoming evidence-based is the many benefits youth will get from it.

“A lot of these kids travel a lot, so it will be nice that they will see the same consistent message,” Haebe said.

The data will take several years to collect, but Haebe and Richards are confident about the end result. In the mean time, there are many other evidence-based programs Region 1, regional coalitions and other health-related organizations in the Panhandle will continue to use to benefit youth in their area.

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