School principals from across Southwest Washington gathered for an annual breakfast and learning event hosted by Prevent Coalition at ESD 112 on Wednesday, October 2, 2019. Nearly 90 people attended the event to show support for and learn about prevention science and youth services in local schools.
The annual breakfast provides an opportunity to increase collaboration between student assistance professionals, community prevention coalitions, and school principals for the benefit of youth prevention and intervention services. It’s an important opportunity for students to be able to showcase the value of prevention activities to their principals and other leaders throughout the region. Participants also received updates on the latest information in prevention science, including what does and doesn’t work in drug and alcohol prevention.
“We know that scare tactics and standalone drug education don’t work,” said Joy Lyons, prevention and youth services manager at ESD 112. “Research now shows that the most effective prevention strategies focus on supporting positive youth development and creating a system that supports youth rather than punishing them if they are struggling.”
Prevent Coalition, which works to connect and support communities to build resilience and prevent youth substance use, and ESD 112 are uniquely positioned as community leaders and subject matter experts in prevention. Prevent works hard to develop close relationships with the students, schools, and other community coalitions they serve so that they’re able to build capacity within the region to support youth. Bringing school principals into the fold gives them greater access to prevention science resources and allows them to become advocates for prevention programs and education in their own schools.
At the event, representatives from ESD 112 spoke about various prevention programs available, and a key note address was presented by Kurt Hatch, Associate Director of the Association of Washington School Principals. He spoke about increasing the use of “Opportunity to Learn,” an approach to student behavior that capitalizes on available instructional time. Hatch also spoke about shifting mindsets about behavior, punishment versus discipline, and strategies that work.
Students from Castle Rock and Skyview High Schools presented information based on their participation in prevention activities in their communities. Castle Rock students talked about positive mentorship and peer education activities in their community and schools, while Skyview High School student Jaelyn Sotelo presented an impactful project implemented by the Clark County Prevention Group, Strong Teens Against Substance Hazards and Abuse, about youth teaching youth about coping skills.
“It’s important for our principals to have the opportunity to come together and hear from prevention experts, as well as the youth we’re already serving,” Lyons said. “Hearing first-hand the impact of the prevention work we and other community coalitions are doing is having on our young people is really powerful, and it lets them know that we’re moving in the right direction when it comes to youth prevention.”
Participants left the event with a greater capacity for and feeling better equipped to address current substance use and wellness issues in schools. They gained access to the latest research in youth prevention and tips for implementing updated prevention strategies in their schools, including preventing and addressing youth vaping use.