PARKERSBURG — The Wood County Prevention Coalition held a town hall meeting Thursday at West Virginia University’s multipurpose hall in Parkersburg.
Presentations were given by Greg Puckett of the National Board of Directors of Community Anti-Drug Coalitions of America, Cathy Grewe, School Counselor and Student Services Coordinator for Wood County Schools, Andrew Walker, Associate Professor of criminal justice at WVU-P, and Nancy Creighton, director of youth services at Westbrook Health Services.
The focus was on drug use and mental health issues involving school-aged children in Wood County, from elementary through middle school and high school.
“So when you’re talking about prevention, that’s the groundwork to make sure you have healthy families, healthy students, healthy adults, throughout their lives,” said Creighton. “We recognize that with adequate prevention processes in place in our service area, it will reduce the need for mental health services, it will reduce the need for addiction services, but we have to look at it as a layered approach. “
Walker spoke about statistics collected from 2019. In his data, 30% of West Virginia college students had tried alcohol in the past 30 days, with 20.6% of Wood County students reporting having done so. .
Fifty percent of students said they had used steam electronics at least once, including 62% in West Virginia. He also talked about the stigma that students face when seeing a counsellor.
“When we look at Wood County students, 60%, so three out of five, said they would feel embarrassed if someone knew they were seeing a counselor,” says Walker.
Grewe spoke about the issues Wood County schools are having with electronic steam products and the programs in place to counter this.
“So I think one of the things that is working, and certainly helping turn the tide with drug use and vaping, is our prevention programs,” said Grewe. “Which we have increased significantly over the past few years.”
Puckett spoke about what a coalition can do for a community and how it can help bring about change.
“They advocate, educate, equip and empower. This is what we do with the communities. Pucket said. “You are going to plan these activities, you are going to implement them and you are going to evaluate them. I hope you will do this in a sustainable and culturally competent way. Because I guarantee you that if you do it in this format, and you do it in succession, and then bounce back as needed after the succession, then you’re going to change the hearts and minds of everyone in the community.
The Wood County Prevention Coalition hosts a bowling event “to get rid of drugs” Sept. 18 at Pike Street Lanes in South Parkersburg from 1 p.m. to 3 p.m. It is free and open to parents and students. For more information, call Mike Pifer at 304-295-8563 or email [email protected]
Puckett concluded his presentation by saying, “Wood County is one of the best coalitions I’ve seen in all of West Virginia, because of the people you have in the community. So keep up the good work.
Douglass Huxley can be contacted at [email protected]