Parenting Is Prevention
The Healthy Missoula Youth Coalition has recently been partnering with MCPS School District in a variety of ways. Most recently, following a staff training day on substance use prevention, partnership with key stakeholders at CS Porter Middle School has led to the development of a Parenting IS Prevention community gathering. On Wednesday, April 19th the Healthy Missoula Youth Coalition’s Chair, Leah Fitch-Brody, and the Youth Groups & Activities Subcommittee chair, Jacqueline Kline, had the opportunity to speak to parents from CS Porter Middle School and three of the feeder elementary schools about substance use prevention.
As parents, caregivers, and community members walked into the school they had the opportunity to go through the Hidden in Plain Sight exhibit, which the coalition received on loan through partnership with the Frenchtown Community Coalition. A variety of community partners were present with booths as well, such as Families First Learning Lab, ParentingMontana.org, and Community Medical Center. CS Porter’s partnership with Costco was able to provide pizza, drinks, and “Grab-Bags” containing hygiene necessities for the caregivers who came.
The evening started off with a presentation from the Healthy Missoula Youth Coalition that described the current climate of underage substance use in Missoula County, a discussion of why this may be detrimental, and what parents and caregivers can do to prevent use and protect the youth in Missoula County. This was followed by a Q&A session which featured a panel of local prevention professionals: Jacqueline Kline (WMMHC/Missoula County PS), Leah Fitch-Brody (MCCHD/ SUD Prevention Coordinator), Kammy Meyers (CS Porter/ Assistant Principal), Ty Solberg (CS Porter/ Principal), Jadd Davis (Families First Learning Lab/Family Education Coordinator), Dr. Sarah Alexa (Community Medical Center/ Pediatrician), and Christine Kowalski (Youth Court/Chief Probation Officer).
Attendees seemed very interested in the resources they could utilize to help them learn more about prevention and how to initiate conversations with youth. ParentingMontana.org, Let’s Face It MT, and the “Talk. They Hear You.” mobile app from SAMHSA were sources of information that most parents had not utilized before, and that the school will now host in their Family Resource Center. These will also be added to the school’s newsletter, and featured on the school’s Blackboard site during National Prevention Week in May.
As partnership with this school grows it is likely that the Parenting is Prevention night will turn into a live series that the school will host monthly in the coming school year. The exit tickets parents and caregivers were asked to fill out at the conclusion of the event indicated that there was high interest in learning more about prevention interventions, protective and risk factors, and education on specific substances.