Why do you feel passionate about the youth in our community?
Joyce: I have two teenage sons that go to school here at Lake of the Woods. I’m a play director for the high school. I help out with confirmation at our church. I’m involved with 4-H. I feel strongly about giving kids in our area opportunities to explore their futures, their education, the arts, possible careers and other important areas of their lives. They are the future of our community and the communities that they move out into the world to be a part of. We need them to have the best possible background we can help them to achieve; if we want our world, both close and far away to improve. I believe strongly that we need to provide healthy outlets for their incredible energy and help them navigate and practice using the appropriate paths to making change happen, when they feel a need is not being met. I feel that the Coalition can play an important role in empowering our young people to choose a path to healthy decision-making, and further, to create the impetus to change some of the aspects of our local culture in regards to underage alcohol consumption.
What does the Lake of the Woods County Prevention Coalition do?
Joyce: The LWPC is a 5-year grant for our county, based on need, primarily to reduce the under-age drinking, in Lake of the Woods County. We are providing a school-based curriculum. We have started a group of young people, who’ve chosen the name STUDs, Students Teaching Uniform Decisions, who are involved with us. We will be doing media campaigns & conducting surveys of both the students and the community. We will be providing training opportunities for individuals interested in learning more about the prevention aspects. We have also helped to bring responsible beverage server training into the county and we will continue to do this throughout the grant. There are many more aspects of the grant to include, but there just isn’t enough column space for all of it.
Do you feel the Coalition and its strategies will, in fact, accomplish its vision of creating a community culture that empowers youth to be alcohol, tobacco and drug free? Why?
Joyce: Why not??? The groups working toward changing attitudes and perceptions of tobacco use have had some great successes, nation-wide. Why couldn’t we change attitudes and behaviors toward alcohol use by our youth, in one sparsely populated county? Attitudes and behaviors do change; it can take some time, but that’s why the grant emphasizes the need to plan for sustainability.
How and why would you encourage other people in the community to support the efforts of the Lake of the Woods Prevention Coalition?
Joyce: I think that people will want to support our efforts if they want to see: fewer minor consumption reports in the paper, fewer minors showing up at establishments trying to buy alcohol, fewer accidents caused by under-age drinking, healthier alternatives provided for and sought out by young people of our community, and more youth who choose to be substance- free. They can help us by filling out the community surveys, talking about the positive aspects of the program with their friends and neighbors, or getting involved with the Coalition. If someone wants to help, we can find something tailored to fit their time and talent commitment, whatever that might be.
The Lake of the Woods County Prevention Coalition is funded through a grant from the Minnesota Department of Human Services, Alcohol and Drug Abuse Division. If you would like to find out more about the Coalition or perhaps become a member of the coalition, please contact Tammie or Joyce by calling the Lake of the Woods School, 1-218-634-2510 ext. 1100, or visit the website at www.lwpcstory.com.