Thursday, March 16, 2017

Congratulations to Polk County Teacher of the Year Lois Horn-Diaz

Congratulations to Polk County Teacher of the Year
Lois Horn-Diaz

InnerAct Alliance congratulates our long-time friend and supporter, Mrs. Lois Horn-Diaz, an outstanding educator at R. Bruce Wagner Elementary School in Lakeland who was recently named Polk County Teacher of the Year. We appreciate the vital role she plays in improving the quality of life for students and families in Polk County through her daily teaching duties and activities.

For many years, Lois volunteered her time and talents to perform original songs to relay the prevention message to children at Red Ribbon Rallies for over 6,000 fifth grade students each spring, as well as at Red Ribbon Campaign kick-off events at elementary schools in the fall. She has an amazing ability to deliver a powerful message in a fun way that brings the whole community together in support of the Red Ribbon message to “Stay away from drugs and say YES to healthy activities.” Thanks, Lois, for all you do!

Congratulations to UthMpact Class VI Graduates!

Congratulations to UthMpact Class VI Graduates!

On Wednesday evening, April 5, 2017, UthMpact will celebrate graduation for its Class VI student leaders who successfully completed the 2016-2017 UthMpact Leadership Program. We are extremely proud that students representing every high school in the county have been enriched by this program in its six years in existence.

The UthMpact Leadership Program, spearheaded by InnerAct Alliance, StandUP Polk Coalition, UthMpact Coalition, along with key business partners, is designed to help teens develop crucial leadership skills and entails a two-day summer retreat, six Leadership Days spent traveling throughout the community experiencing the inner workings of local government, healthcare, education, business, volunteerism, and law enforcement, as well as participation in dozens of events and volunteer opportunities throughout the year. The group’s most prominent project has been its social-norms program impacting students in area high schools with important messages about bullying, distracted driving, tobacco, marijuana, alcohol, and prescription drugs.

Congratulations to our UthMpact Class VI Graduates: Emily Alexander (Lakeland Senior High School), Veronica Aviles (Fort Meade Middle/High School), Jacob Barnett (All Saints Academy), Ava Carter (Harrison School for the Arts), Caroline Carter (Harrison School for the Arts), Adelaide Christian (Lakeland Senior High School), Katherine Cossin (George Jenkins High School), Elizabeth Cribb (IB at Bartow High School), Ashria Daskundu (McKeel School of Technology), Brooke Drawdy (Lakeland Senior High School), Coryell Dreyer (Harrison School for the Arts), Jayla Fairley (All Saints Academy), Jack Garcia (All Saints Academy), Athena Hill (Summerlin Academy), James Hunter (IB at Bartow High School), Hannah Hussey (Victory Christian Academy), Guriel Kim (Bartow Senior High School), Omari Jackson (Lake Wales High School), Riley Jarrell (Lakeland Christian School), Nickalaus Kramer (Ridge Community High School), Tanner Ledford (Harrison School for the Arts), Luke Lewis (Lakeland Senior High School), Mary Claire Madden (Lakeland Senior High School), Robert Madden (Lakeland Senior High School), Madeline Manzi (McKeel School of Technology), Yereli Mejia (IB at Haines City High School), Kacie Parrow (Victory Christian Academy), Hunter Pomeroy (Kathleen Senior High School), Erica Revelo (Lake Wales High School), Demetrius Robinson (Haines City High School), Eve Royal (Harrison School for the Arts), Elaina Salerno (Lake Gibson High School), Jose Santiago-Mora (Bartow Senior High School), Tison Savage (Harrison School for the Arts), Garrett Steele (Tenoroc High School), Theodore Steelman (All Saints Academy), Alejandra Tena (IB at Haines City High School), Bailey Timmons (Victory Christian Academy), Hailey Tomlin (George Jenkins High School), Rebecca Turner (McKeel School of Technology), Jack Twgford (Winter Haven High School), Madelyn Walsh (Harrison School for the Arts), Chase Walters (Lakeland Christian School), Mariah Wiggs (Lake Gibson High School), and Marcus Wright Jr. (Summerlin Academy).

2017 Project Prom: Celebrate Prom Alcohol & Drug Free!

~ Celebrate Prom Alcohol & Drug Free! ~   

UthMpact’s 2017 Project Prom of Polk County is off to a fantastic start providing formal dresses, suits, and accessories to deserving high school teens in exchange for signing a pledge to make smart, healthy decisions on the night of prom. We are very proud of our current and past UthMpact student leaders for raising awareness and encouraging their Polk County friends and peers to celebrate safe and memorable prom nights since 2013.

3 more Project Prom Shopping Days will be held on Saturdays March 18, April 1, and April 15 from 10:00 am – 4:00 pm. Come down to our New Project Prom Store at 1113-B South Florida Avenue in the Dixieland area to see the beautiful gowns, men’s wear, and accessories donated by community residents. High school students with a Polk County School ID can sign a Project Prom Pledge to celebrate drug-free and receive their formal wear for FREE!

Since 2013, over 500 prom ensembles have been provided to young women and men. UthMpact's goal is to promote a fun and safe prom night. Project Prom would like to thank our very generous sponsors: Badcock Home Furniture & More, MIDFlorida Credit Union, Publix Super Markets, Inc., Two Men And A Truck, WPCV 97 Country, and WWRZ MAX 98.3 Radio.   

Fifth Grade Red Ribbon Rallies on May 10 & May 16!

Fifth Grade Red Ribbon Rallies on May 10 & May 16!

Nearly 6,000 fifth grade students in Polk County have been invited to participate in InnerAct Alliance’s 2017 Red Ribbon Rallies. Rally events in Lakeland are scheduled on Wednesday, May 10th at 9:30 am and 11:30 am at The Lakeland Center. Fifth graders from Haines City and Winter Haven area schools will gather on Tuesday, May 16th, at 10:00 am, at the Polk State College Gym in Winter Haven.

The anti-drug motivational rallies focus on reinforcing critical substance abuse resistance skills before students enter middle school in the fall.  Nationally known speaker, Patrick T. Grady, community leaders, and radio personalities from 97 Country WPCV’s Breakfast Club will be on hand to encourage students to make the positive choice of a healthy lifestyle without the use of drugs.  

Fifth graders will compete in a special contest to create original essays, poems, and posters that convey topical anti-drug messages about the dangers of alcohol, tobacco and other drugs. Contest participants will be recognized during the rallies and overall first place winners in each contest category will receive cash prizes of $100, $50 and $25.

Drug Enforcement Administration’s National Prescription Drug Take-Back Day Saturday, April 29, 2017

Drug Enforcement Administration’s National Prescription Drug Take-Back Day
Saturday, Apr
il 29, 2017

StandUP Polk and local law enforcement agencies are proud to join The Drug Enforcement Administration and its national and community partners for National Prescription Drug Take-Back Day on Saturday, April 29, 2017, from 10:00 am to 2:00 pm, for citizens to dispose of unwanted, unneeded, and expired medications.

National Prescription Drug Take Back Day aims to provide a safe, convenient, and responsible means of disposing of prescription drugs, while also educating the public about the potential for abuse of medication.

Medicines kept in home cabinets are highly susceptible to misuse and abuse. Many people are also unaware of how to properly dispose of unused medicine, often flushing them down the toilet or throwing them away – both potential safety and health hazards.

Our community’s Prescription Drug Take-Back Day will include the following 8 locations in Polk County for citizens to turn in unused, expired, or unwanted Human and Pet Medications, including over the counter medications, vitamins, and other medication in liquid and solid form, for safe and proper disposal. Medications should be placed in a clear, air-tight plastic bag.  

Drop-off locations from 10:00 am to 2:00 pm are:
Auburndale Police Department – 2 Bobby Green Plaza, Auburndale, FL
Bartow Police Department – 450 North Broadway Avenue, Bartow, FL
Haines City Police Department – 35400 Highway 27, Haines City, FL
Lake Alfred Police Department – 190 N. Seminole Avenue, Lake Alfred, FL
Lake Hamilton Police Department – 100 Smith Avenue, Lake Hamilton, FL
Lake Wales Police Department
- 133 E. Tillman Avenue, Lake Wales, FL
Lakeland Police Department – 219 N. Massachusetts Avenue, Lakeland, FL
Winter Haven Police Department – 125 N. Lake Silver Drive NW, Winter Haven, FL

Unwanted medications may also be taken to the county’s permanent drop sites at the Police Department locations in: Auburndale (weekdays 8-5); Haines City (weekdays 8-5); Lake Alfred (24hrs/7days); Lake Hamilton (weekdays 8-5); Lakeland (24hrs/7days); and Winter Haven (weekdays 8-5).  To avoid harming lakes and ground water, please do not dispose of medication in the toilet.  

Previous medication collections held in Polk County since 2010 have resulted in over 10,000 pounds of recovered pharmaceuticals safely disposed of via incineration. 

For more information on the local Prescription Drug Take-Back event, please contact StandUP Polk at (863) 802-0777.

Kindergarteners with Good Social Skills More Likely to Succeed as Adults

Kindergarteners with Good Social Skills
More Likely to Succeed as Adults
A comprehensive study of 800 children, conducted over a period of 20 years from kindergarten through their mid-20’s, reports those who learned social skills of helpfulness and sharing at an early age were more likely to have achieved success by early adulthood. Youngsters who had problems resolving conflicts, sharing, cooperating, and listening were less likely to have completed high school and college, and more likely to have problems with substance abuse.

The study, funded by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation in 2015, illustrates an important connection between brain health and a person’s overall health. Researchers found that success in school involves both social-emotional and cognitive skills because social interactions, attention, and self-control affect readiness for learning. When children learn to interact effectively with peers and control their emotions, it can have an enormous impact on how their adult lives take shape. More about the study can be found in the American Journal of Public Health at

We have an amazing staff of teachers at InnerAct Alliance who present prevention education programs like The PAX Good Behavior Game, along with Keep A Clear Mind, Too Good for Drugs and Violence, Project ALERT, Project Towards No Drug Abuse, as well as Social Norms in our local schools. These best practice educational programs have proven to positively influence students’ attitudes, beliefs, and perceptions regarding alcohol, tobacco, marijuana, and other drug use, bullying, violence, and other risky behaviors. The prosocial behaviors studied by our colleagues at Penn State University and reported in this study are precisely the behaviors that the PAX Good Behavior Game changes through its environmental approach to create a classroom environment that is conducive to learning, reduces off-task behavior, increases attentiveness, and decreases aggressive and disruptive behavior. This coming school year PAXIS will provide an optional survey to all our sites as a predictor to show funders and communities that PAX changes these behaviors quickly and sustainably. Additional info on how PAX GBG scaffolds the skill development referenced in this study can be found at: