Thursday, October 21, 2010

InnerAct Alliance Receives $100,000 Evidence Based Practices In Schools Grant!

InnerAct Aliance and its coalition partners are celebrating successful funding news for the second consecutive month! The agency, in collaboration with the Polk Education Foundation, has been awarded an Evidence Based Practices in Schools Grant of $100,000 by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.

The grant will fund a successful program, developed by Dennis Embry, Ph.D. of Johns Hopkins University, to reduce classroom disruptions and incidences that hinder learning and affect long term behavior. Up to 2,500 students in the Polk County school system will be served by the StandUP for Polk's Children program over a period of 5 years. It is expected to involve 500 students in the first year, 1000 in the second, 1500 in the third, 2000 in the fourth, and 2500 in the fifth and final year. The population will include five elementary schools with free and reduced lunch services covering at least fifty percent of the student body.

The program's long term measurements show benefits including: a rate of 86% of participants attained their high school diploma, compared to 19% of similar students who did not participate in the program; 99% of non-participants used illicit drugs, compared to 66% of program participants; and 88% of non-participants demonstrated anti-social behavior in later years, compared to 43% of the program participants. Measured short term goals include reduced classroom disruptions and disciplinary actions.

InnerAct Alliance, formerly the Drug Prevention Resource Center, has worked diligently for the past 25 years to reduce the abuse and underage use of alcohol, tobacco and other drugs through: Community Awareness and Involvement; Prevention Education; Economic Support; and Leadership Development. The 501(c)(3) nonprofit agency serves as the fiscal agent for the StandUP Polk (adult) and UthMpact (youth) Coalitions for a Drug-Free Polk to help educate about the dangers of substance abuse and bring about positive changes for Polk County. For information on the Evidence Based Practices in Schools Grant, StandUP Polk and InnerAct Alliance prevention programs and services, please contact Angie Ellison, Executive Director, at (863) 802-0777.

The Polk Education Foundation, also a 501(c)(3) nonprofit agency, serves as the direct support organization for the Polk County School Board, raising funds to provide services to students and teachers in the school district over and above what tax dollars can provide. Providing student scholarships and classroom grants are a large part of the Foundation's work. For additional information on the Polk Education Foundation, please contact Susan Copeland, Executive Director, at (863) 534-0434.

Healthy Red Ribbon Family Fun Planned On November 6!

Mark your calendar and plan to attend the 19th Annual Red Ribbon Run, the largest youth running event in Polk County, on Saturday morning, November 6, 2010, at George Jenkins High School, 6000 Lakeland Highlands Road, in Lakeland.

Event registration is FREE for K-5 students. Participants who pre-register through their school will receive a FREE Drug Free Is Hot Red Ribbon Run t-shirt. All age groups are welcome. Adults and children in grade 6 and older may compete in the Open Run for a $10 registration fee. Registration check-in begins at 7 AM, with the first race starting at 8 AM. Prizes will be awarded and the school with the largest percentage of students in attendance will win a special participation trophy.

Run festivities also include the Kids Health & Wellness Carnival, from 9 AM to 1 PM, to celebrate the benefits of healthy living. Wristbands will be sold for $5 admission to enjoy interactive attractions including an obstacle course, bounce house, giant slide, and other fun activities, refreshments and entertainment. To promote healthy minds as well as healthy bodies, each K-5th grader who attends and participates in the Run and Carnival events will receive a FREE children's book! Local youth groups and organizations will also be on hand.

For more information on Red Ribbon activities, please call InnerAct Alliance at (863) 802-0777.

Friday, October 1, 2010

2nd Countywide Purge Your Pills Drop Off Nets Over 400 lbs. of Pharmaceuticals

The second countywide prescription medication collection by StandUP Polk and its partners in the Coalition for a Drug-Free Polk was a great success! The event, held in conjunction with the DEA's National Pill Take Back Initiative on Saturday, September 25, 2010, resulted in a estimated 400 pounds of recovered pharmaceuticals. An earlier pill collection held by the coalition in March 2010 brought in 245.5 pounds of medication.

Over 300 people brought human and pet medications to drop-off sites throughout the county including Auburndale Police Department; Florida Department of Transportation (hosted by Bartow Police Department), Haines City Police Department, Lake Alfred Police Department, Lakeland Police Department, and Winter haven Police Department. All medications have been safely disposed of via incineration.

The coalition partners recognize the growing problem of prescription drug abuse and planned this event for two important reasons - to help Polk County residents properly dispose of old and unused prescription medications in an environmentally safe manner that will not be harmful to the aquifer or ground water, and to help reduce prescription drug abuse by decreasing the availability of expired or unwanted medications. The coalition is planning future pill drop events and discussing permanent pill drop off venues in the county.

Prescription medication has become one of the fastest-growing abused drugs of adults and especially teens, who report finding painkillers, stimulants, depressants, and other medications to abuse right in their own family medicine cabinet. Preventing youth from gaining access to prescription and over-the-counter drugs is one way to prevent and stop this epidemic. Parents should also talk with their children about the dangers of prescription drug abuse.

StandUP Polk, the Coalition for a Drug Free Polk, is a group of concerned citizens, law enforcement, community and business leaders working together to take a stand against drugs and bring about positive change for Polk County. All are welcome to join this important initative and take part in monthly meetings. Key support for the Rx Pill Drop event has been provided by: Auburndale Police Department, Bartow Police Department, Florida Department of Transportation, Haines City Police Department, Lake Alfred Police Department, Lakeland Police Department, Polk County Waste Resource Management, and Winter Haven Police Department. For more information, please call Angie Ellison at InnerAct Alliance at (863) 802-0777.