On Nov. 9, Boone County Ignite, a youth group supported by North Arkansas Partnership for Health Education (NAPHE) and the Boone County Substance Abuse Prevention Coalition received the 2017 Youth Program of the Year Award at the annual Prescription Drug Summit in Hot Springs for their work in helping to increase enforcement of tobacco free park policies in Harrison’s city parks. NAPHE staff and AmeriCorps VISTA members attended the 2017 Prescription Drug Summit at the Hot Springs Convention Center where the award was given.
“We were delighted when we heard that our own Harrison IGNITE youth program from the Harrison High School was honored with the 2017 Oustanding Youth Group Award,” said Chrissie Larchez, Youth Program Coordinator for the Drug Free Communities program. “The youth group spent time in May cleaning up portions of the Minnie Harris Park after attending Crawdad Days and Recovery in the Park events. They then took information they found to the Harrison City Council and implored the council to increase signage in the park about the ban on smoking in the park,” she continued.
Nathaniel Bright said, “We knew there was an ordinance in place, but we kept seeing people smoking and vaping in the park at these events. We picked up a couple of bags of cigarette butts and later brought them to the Harrison City Council. We explained that people are continuing to violate the ordinance, the city could be collecting fines, and secondhand smoke is dangerous for kids at these events and for those who visit the parks because the butts are right there where they can be picked up by toddlers. When council members asked us what could be done, we suggested that informing tobacco and nicotine users about the ordinance would be a good start. The council agreed and Mayor Dan Sherrell’s office helped us create signs for the park. They are hanging in the park now.”
Bright went on to say, “We had no idea our efforts would be acknowledged by the state and we are both surprised and honored to accept this state award.”
The Prescription Drug Summit was hosted by Attorney General Leslie Rutledge, the Arkansas Office of the Drug Director, The Arkansas State Board of Pharmacy and the University of Arkansas System Criminal Justice Institute. The program is part of an ongoing continuing program of raising awareness of the dangers of prescription drug abuse throughout Arkansas.
NAPHE staff from both its Regional Prevention Program (Cindy DeWitt and Pam Baker) and its Drug Free Communities Program (Karen Hill and Larchez) as well as volunteers from its AmeriCorp VISTA Program (Eva Reece, Carla Dunlap, and Tiffany Setchfield) will receive continuing education credits for attending the full day program which updated prescription drug resources within the state.
NAPHE is a non-profit agency established in 1997 as a partnership between North Arkansas College and North Arkansas Regional Medical Center, to provide health education, awareness, prevention and intervention to improve the health and well-being of the citizens of northern Arkansas and to empower individuals and families to live active lives in a safe, healthy environment.
NAPHE works with its co-partner, Boone County Hometown Health Improvement Coalition (HHI), and the HHI coalitions across the region to improve health outcomes. The Region 2 Prevention Office, which works to support prevention groups in Baxter, Boone, Marion, Newton and Searcy counties, and the Drug Free Communities program, which facilitates the work of the Boone County Substance Abuse Prevention Coalition and its affiliated IGNITE Youth Program, and the Northwest Tobacco Education Network, which serves Boone, Carroll and Marion counties on tobacco prevention matters, are all hosted by NAPHE.
NAPHE also houses an AmeriCorps VISTA program with a staff of approximately 20 volunteers. This release was developed, in part, under grant number SPO-20963-03 from the Office of National Drug Control Policy and Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration.