A guest blog by Hailey Kanipe, Prevention Specialist
When it comes to preventing substance misuse in communities, it truly does take a village. LRADAC’s prevention team partners with organizations all over the Midlands to increase peoples’ knowledge of the effects of substance misuse. You may not know it, but ongoing prevention education and training are proven effective in helping to create drug-free communities.
Our prevention staff facilitates the South Carolina Tobacco Education Program (TEP) to educate students who have used tobacco products at school or in the community and prevent future tobacco use. We also partner with local students and law enforcement officers to complete alcohol and tobacco compliance checks and “shoulder taps” in local restaurants, bars, and stores. The purpose of compliance checks and shoulder taps is to ensure that store clerks and restaurant servers are checking IDs and are not selling alcohol or tobacco products to those who are underage. Should a store clerk or restaurant server sell alcohol or tobacco products to an underage person in a community served by LRADAC, the clerk will be required to attend the Palmetto Retailer’s Education Program (PREP) to learn about state and local laws pertaining to the sales and service of alcohol and tobacco products, as well as how to check IDs and prevent the over-service of alcohol to patrons.
LRADAC’s prevention staff is rarely seen in the office! When not teaching courses, you can find us in communities across Lexington and Richland counties sharing print resources or speaking at community events and presentations. We have attended every type of event, from neighborhood cookouts to church services. However, we also invite our community members to take part in prevention work themselves by becoming a part of our community coalitions. Lexington One Community Coalition (LOCC) and Rise Above It Lexington Two Community Coalition (RAI) are made up of people from all sectors of the communities they serve. From teachers and students to parents, health care workers, law enforcement officers, church members, government officials, and concerned citizens, there is a place for anyone in our coalitions who wishes to impact their community by helping prevent substance misuse. Each coalition funds clubs that middle and high school students can join to take part in safe and fun activities (called “alternative activities”) like going to a trampoline park after school. Alternative activities encourage students to use their spare time constructively rather than using their time to experiment with alcohol, tobacco, or other drugs. Once a year, students in these clubs also participate in the “Out of Their Hands” campaign by helping law enforcement raise awareness of the legal drinking age by placing stickers on alcoholic beverages in local grocery and convenience stores.
In the past year alone, LRADAC’s prevention team has reached thousands of Lexington and Richland County citizens through in-person events and social media outreach, and hundreds of students, clerks, and restaurant servers through our TEP and PREP programs. However, we could not have a big impact without the help and support of our community partners! We appreciate those who have volunteered to help us set up events, volunteered to share their recovery stories, and showed their financial support for LRADAC’s services. You have made it so much easier for us to move forward in our mission to “create and support pathways for prevention and recovery from substance misuse for individuals, families, and communities.”
We encourage you to continue to be change-makers for good in your communities by taking part in our prevention efforts and continuing to help us fund these programs. In the end, prevention’s reach in our communities is only as big as the arms of its partners!