Article by: Elizabeth Ruth

Burlington coalition receives $625,000 grant to prevent youth substance use!

Most Burlington-Edison (and Skagit County) students do not use drugs and alcohol. However, if you ask a teenager, or even some adults, how many students use marijuana and prescription drugs, they are likely to say “everyone.” Misperceptions about youth substance use rates, determined by the Healthy Youth Survey every two years, are one factor that can actually impact the likelihood of future use. Factors such as this, among others, will be addressed in new project coordinated by United General District 304 in the Burlington-Edison School District.

In December 2020, District 304 was awarded a five-year Drug Free Communities (DFC) grant to increase community collaboration and decrease marijuana and prescription drug use by youth in the Burlington-Edison School District. United is partnering with the Burlington Healthy Community Coalition (BHCC), a group that has worked to create safe and drug-free communities for youth since 1985.

Community Engagement

BHCC Program Coordinator, Liz Wilhelm, was hired as a result of this grant to engage youth, the community, and school district through strategies for community-level change. By involving students and the extended community, the DFC project will build “protective factors” that can make a difference when youth are faced with the decision to use or abstain from tobacco, alcohol, and drugs.

“This represents an exciting opportunity for Burlington-Edison. The grant enables us to engage students, families, school staff, and the extended community and provides funds for youth and adult coalition trainings and activities. It is especially exciting for youth, who will develop and lead local projects and attend national conferences in places like Washington, D.C. (once safe to travel)” – Elizabeth Ruth, United General District 304

Seven Strategies for Community-Level Change

Over the next year, the coalition will develop a strategic plan to begin implementing the seven strategies for community-level change tailored to the Burlington-Edison community. These funds, made available by the White House Office of National Drug Control Policy in conjunction with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, will help BHCC make an impact on the conditions and norms that prevent youth substance use and build a brighter future.

For more information about the Drug-Free Communities grant and Burlington Health Community Coalition, contact Liz Wilhelm at [email protected]