Beth Forkner Moe: ASAP makes a difference in the community
Winona County Alliance for Substance Abuse Prevention (ASAP) is finishing its third year of operation on Sept. 30. Funded by a five-year, $532,974 grant from the federal Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), ASAP is a group of community members devoted to cultivating a drug-free culture for youth in the Winona area.
ASAP’s vision is:
To be a community free from the negative consequences of alcohol and substance abuse.To provide awareness and education for substance abuse prevention to the greater community.To support and encourage youth toward healthy life goals, unhindered by the misuse and effects of alcohol and other drugs.
We know this is a huge undertaking, but are confident that these goals can be achieved by the entire community coming together.
The Board of Directors is comprised of members from 12 sectors of the community, ensuring that there is broad community support and engagement. Those sectors include health, government, law enforcement business, schools, faith, parents, civic/volunteer, substance abuse treatment, youth-serving organization, media and youth. Additionally, there is a liaison from the Winona County Criminal Justice Coordinating Committee (CJCC), which was instrumental in securing the original grant.
Additionally, a variety of community members attend our monthly board meetings and our events (as well as helping with them). We have hundreds people who have signed up to receive our monthly newsletter or who have asked us to contact them if we need help. Beyond that, we have dozens of businesses and organizations who partner with us on events and information.
Just a few of the activities ASAP provides each year include:
Hidden in Plain Sight (HIPS)
This is a free exhibit we offer to parents and guardians to learn about the warning signs of potential and regular substance use. Only adults are allowed to walk through this mock teen bedroom with a checklist to try and identify numerous household items that may indicate substance use. We have held HIPS events several times in the past year, including at schools, expos, businesses and the Winona County Fair, with hundreds of people in attendance.
BUZZKILL is a county-wide awareness campaign with the sole purpose of reminding community members that it is illegal to provide alcohol to people under the legal drinking age of 21. Not only is it illegal, but you risk facing consequences that affect ones future and health. We highlight activities across Winona County that provide students with alternatives to binge drinking and provide adults with opportunities to help prevent negative consequences of underage drinking.
Prescription (Rx) Drug Take-Back Events
These are free opportunities for community members to safely dispose of prescription medications. We are in the middle of an opioid epidemic, and one of the concerns is that Rx drugs are easily accessed and shared for misuse. Larger events are hosted in April and October of each year, and intended for anyone to drop off any unwanted or unused prescribed medication.
We have also purchased a secure prescription drug drop box for the Winona County Law Enforcement Center (LEC) and assisted Winona Health Pharmacy in coordinating and purchasing one as well.
In addition, we have:
Collected data from area high school students about use, accessibility, and perception of risk and approval (of peers and parents) of various drugs, including alcohol, tobacco, prescription drugs, and marijuana;Held community conversations around opiod and marijuana use;Provided presentations and information at community events and at community civil organizations;Provided Narcan training to several groups, with help from the Steven Rummler HOPE Network. Narcan is the brand name of the medication which is used to reverse the effects of an opioid overdose by allowing the individual to breathe normally again;Provided information about safe and healthy activities for teens to schools, parents and youth groups;Provided resources for Responsible Beverage Server Training, as well as funding overtime pay for local law enforcement officials to provide compliance checks at local establishments that serve alcohol.
Please join us. Our board meetings are public and are held the third Monday of each month, 2:30-4 p.m. at Pleasant Valley Church. We also have various committees that people are encouraged to join, as well as many public events throughout the year.
To learn more or to arrange an event at your organization or workplace, visit our website at winonacountyasap.org. Or contact coordinator Phil Huerta by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone at 507-474-2727.