Tuesday, January 31, 2012

StandUP Polk & UthMpact Coalition Coordinators to Attend National Substance Abuse Prevention Conference in Washington, D.C.

Members of the Coalition for a Drug-Free Polk are headed to Washington, D.C. this week to join nearly 3,000 substance abuse prevention and treatment specialists and advocates at the Community Anti-Drug Coalitions of America’s 22nd Annual National Leadership Forum, which will be held from February 6-9, 2012. The CADCA Conference is the nation’s largest training for substance abuse prevention and treatment professionals and researchers.

The forum agenda will include conference headline guest speakers, Gil Kerlikowske, Director of the Office of National Drug Control Policy, and James Fowler, Ph.D., author of Connected: The Surprising Power of Our Social Networks and How They Shape Our Lives, among others. Polk Coalition Coordinators, Lisa A. Jones of StandUP Polk, and Veronica Awai of UthMpact, will also have the opportunity to meet with the Florida members of both the House and Senate during CADCA’s Capitol Hill Day on February 8, 2012 to brief them on the coalitions’ local activities and programs.

“We are looking forward to having our coalition coordinators travel to our nation’s Capitol, and make the most of this outstanding opportunity to interact with other prevention specialists and learn the latest strategies to help keep our community safe from the harms of alcohol, tobacco, and other drug abuse,” said Angie Ellison, executive director of InnerAct Alliance, the agency that serves as the fiscal agent for the StandUP Polk (adult-based) and UthMpact (youth-based) Coalitions for a Drug-Free Polk.

StandUP 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. UthMpact is the dynamic youth coalition of teen leaders committed to helping educate and deliver key substance abuse prevention messages to teens by their peers. This energetic group has developed anti-tobacco, underage drinking, and social norming campaigns currently being piloted in Polk County middle and high schools.

For more information about the Coalition for a Drug-Free Polk, please contact Lisa A. Jones or Veronica Awai at 863-802-0777, or via e-mail at: lisa.jones@inneractalliance.org or veronica@uthmpact.com.

CADCA is the national membership organization representing more than 5,000 coalitions and affiliates working to make America’s communities safe, healthy and drug-free. Its mission is to strengthen the capacity of community coalitions by providing technical assistance and training, public policy advocacy, media strategies and marketing programs, conferences, and special events.

For information about CADCA’s National Leadership Forum, visit http://forum.cadca.org/. Members of the media interested in press credentials to attend CADCA’s National Leadership Forum should contact Natalia Martinez Duncan at 703-706-0560, Ext. 256 or via e-mail at: nmartinez@cadca.org.

Thursday, January 26, 2012

UthMpact Service Leadership Day - November 30, 2011

On November 30, 2011, a group of 30 high school student participants in the UthMpact Leadership Program had the unique opportunity to learn firsthand about the importance of service leadership and the positive impact of volunteerism in our community. The action-packed agenda for UthMpact Service Leadership Day included meeting with administrators, touring the facilities, and serving as volunteers at local nonprofit agencies including Lighthouse Ministries and Viste in Lakeland, along with a stop to visit with elderly residents at Hawthorne Inn.

The following summary of the day’s activities was written by participants Richard Anderson and Rachel Martin, students at Harrison School for the Visual and Performing Arts:

During our most recent Leadership Day, UthMpact members assisted at Lighthouse Ministries, made holiday greeting cards at Viste, and visited with the elderly residents at Hawthorne Inn. Lighthouse Ministries provided a guided tour and many hands on projects, including helping with the canned food drive and organizing donations. After a busy morning at Lighthouse, we had an opportunity to show our creative talents by making Holiday cards at Viste. It was very gratifying to know our heartwarming greeting cards will brighten the holidays for the sheltered elderly folks served by Viste programs. Then it was on to Hawthorne Inn, for a fun ending to a productive day. It was so enjoyable for all of us to talk with the elderly residents and hear their stories as they reminisced about their lives. Former Lakeland Assistant Police Chief, Debra Henson, also joined in the fun and brought along her very friendly golden retriever, Jake, who is also a licensed therapy dog…the residents loved him! The entire room joined in singing Christmas Carols, led by Richard and Eugene playing the piano. We will all remember Volunteer Day with fond memories and we look forwarding to sharing our experiences with future UthMpact members.

The UthMpact Leadership Program, spearheaded by InnerAct Alliance, StandUP Polk Coalition, UthMpact Coalition, and key business partners, is designed to help teens develop crucial leadership skills. The 30 student participants have been nominated by their high school principals. The teens will meet with community leaders and experience the inner workings of local government, healthcare, education, and law enforcement. Future theme days include: Education Leadership Day (January 25); Government Leadership Day (February 22); Business Leadership Day (March 28); and Leadership Graduation (April 25).

Applications are currently being accepted for Class II of the Leadership Program. If teens are interested in applying, they should contact their school principal or Veronica Awai, UthMpact Coalition Coordinator, at (863) 802-0777, or by e-mail at: veronica@uthmpact.com. You may also find UthMpact on Facebook at www.facebook.com/UthMpact.