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Ray County Coalition receives national attention

The Ray County Coalition’s aggressive efforts the last couple of years have paid off in national recognition.
The group has learned it will be recognized by the Community Anti-Drug Coalitions of America with its “Got Outcomes!” award. The group will be recognized at the CADCA’s national convention near Washington, D.C., Feb. 9-12, 2009.
Along with being recognized, group members will network with other coalitions and participate in more than 100 workshops and informational meetings to help deal with substance abuse.
Ray County Coalition Projects Director Theresa Rice said the coalition received a similar award from the state of Missouri in 2004, but this was the first year the coalition pursued the national award.
The coalition won the award because of their strategic planning and their ability to lower the data numbers associated with substance abuse. Rice said it is hard to nail down one specific project or area that the CADCA recognized because each program is so important.
“We’re proud of all of them because it takes a county-wide effort and strategic planning and implementation process,” Rice said. “It takes literally a holistic approach to make a societal change. Narrowing down to one would be difficult. We couldn’t do it without all of these entities partnering together.”
The award process works by coalitions submitting projects and data that reflect on the impact the coalition has had on its community. Then, a panel of judges reviews the material. Those seriously considered for the award are then asked to provide more detailed information according to Rice.
Rice said receiving the award is a good barometer for progress here locally. She said it is also a good way for the community to give itself a pat on the back for a job well done.
“It’s all these small things that show the bigger picture and that Ray County is making a difference,” she said. “This is just one way of saying Kudos to everyone who lives in Ray County and has a part in reducing substance abuse.”
A heavy advertising campaign was the first highlight the coalition listed to the CADCA. According to Rice, since October of 2007, the coalition has run weekly quarter-page advertisements in five newspapers with a total circulation of 30,000. In addition, the coalition has bought advertisements on cable and cinema systems and has had a strong presence at community events.
The coalition has focused on training. In addition to training seminars for members and parents, the coalition has also sponsored training for law enforcement officers.
Youth education and reinforcement has also been a focus with programs such as the “It’s time to Make a Deal” program modeled after the TV show “Let’s Make a Deal,” that awards seventh-graders cash prizes for their knowledge about drugs and alcohol.
The coalition also focuses on providing support in addition to prevention programs by providing support to first offender programs through the Ray County Juvenile services.
The coalition has also had a hand in policy change. The group has been instrumental in school and law enforcement policies as well as laws themselves.
The coalition was successful in getting keg registration, MIP by consumption and open house party laws passed in the county before they became state law.
The coalition is heavily involved with compliance checks with alcohol retailers and rewards those businesses that do not sell to minors. According to Rice the coalition has reduced sales to minors from 40 percent to five percent.
Rice said the most important factor in the coalitions efforts is educating the public.
“Once they get the education and awareness that’s when we all come together and say what’s best and healthy for our children,” she said.

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