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The Rural East Adams Coalition for Health

Working to educate, empower, and support healthy communities in East Adams County.

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Youth Marijuana Education

Marijuana and Youth

Karen Potts, Nursing Director for Adams County Health Department and current REACH Chair, together with Karen Palmer, Adams County Assessment Coordinator, established in 2014 a Youth Marijuana Program to reduce marijuana and e-cigarette use among young people between the ages of 12-23 years old. The program included entertainment events for young people at which they could be alerted to of the dangers of marijuana and e-cigarette use.

The idea for the program arose from a Community Health Needs Assessment in October of 2014 that showed consistent concern from each community surveyed over drug abuse and a lack of positive activities for young people. During that survey, the Adams County Health Alliance was formed, and a Community Health Improvement Plan was developed; since then, both of those groups have made the concerns of the community their priority, and have been taking action to address them. Today, REACH continues to address those same issues.

The Lind-Ritzville school district, like many schools statewide, participates in the Washington Healthy Youth Survey every other year. The Office of the Superintendent of Public Instruction, the Department of Health, the Department of Social and Health Service’s Division of Behavioral Health and Recovery, and the Liquor and Cannabis Board created that survey to gather important information about youth behavior in Washington. Students in grades six through 12 anonymously answer questions about safety and violence, physical activity and diet, alcohol, tobacco and other drug use, and related risk and protective factors. County prevention coordinators, community mobilization coalitions, and community public-health and safety networks use the results of that survey to guide policy and programs, such as the Youth Marijuana Program.

In April 2016, the Washington State Department of Health awarded grant funding to Spokane Regional Health District’s Healthy Communities Program for it to act as the lead organization in working with six counties: Adams, Ferry, Stevens, Pend Oreille, Lincoln, and Spokane. That District is also are charge of establishing a regional effort to reduce youth marijuana and e-cigarette use for those between the ages of 12 and 23.

The Adams County Health Alliance viewed this grant as a step toward their goal of addressing the concerns about drug abuse in youths. Ms. Palmer said the funding was designated for Eastern Adams County, which is very rare owing to the size of the county. She noted how it is difficult for the county to receive funding, and that she was excited to see how the grant benefits the program. Ms. Potts further noted that “You need funding to make things happen: without it, it is extremely difficult to get the results you want.”

Palmer and Potts worked hard to develop a Community Prevention Coalition in Adams County so as to receive more funding for the program. The program would include education for adults on their impact as role models to these youths. The adult-education program is not aimed at telling adults what they can and cannot do: it is simply to inform them of the impacts they have on the younger community, Palmer said. The dosage of the consumed marijuana product could have a very different reaction on a child vs. an adult; adults may be able to consume a certain amount of marijuana and still feel fine, while the same amount may well harm a child.

E-cigarettes can also have a harmful effect on young people, as young bodies are still continuing to grow and develop, Potts said. Palmer expressed her concern about the advertised safety of e-cigarettes compared to normal cigarettes. She said most people think they are being a lot healthier by smoking e-cigarettes, but those, too, have harmful effects, Palmer explained. “They technically are better than smoking an actual cigarette; however, they still contain harmful chemicals and are not as healthy as most think,” Palmer said.

The two program coordinators expressed concerns about how marijuana and e-cigarettes are more accessible than ever, which means they can land in the hands of young people very easily. They hope the program will help spread awareness about the harmful affects they can both have on growing bodies.

REACH-Created Motivational Posters

These are flyers that the Spokane Regional Health District originally created; but they then worked with the Adams County Health Department to design in a rural backdrop representative of Adams County. We have put these in the newspaper, and distribute them as handouts. They are REACH-endorsed.

Anti-Marijuana Poster #1 Anti-Marijuana Poster #2 Anti-Marijuana Poster #3 Anti-Marijuana Poster #4 Anti-Marijuana Poster #5

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This page was last modified on Saturday, 15 September 2018, at 7:47 am Pacific Time.