InnerAct Alliance and our Coalition partners StandUP Polk and UthMpact would like to thank our generous supporters and wish you a safe & happy holiday season!
UthMpact Leadership is a unique program, spearheaded by InnerAct Alliance, StandUP Polk, UthMpact, business and community partners, to help teens develop crucial leadership skills. Members of UthMpact Leadership Class X have been able to take part in October & November Leadership Days, incorporating safe social distance protocols of course!
October’s UthMpact Leadership Day, themed “Volunteerism”, was a busy one! The teens visited with Lakeland Volunteers in Medicine to learn about the Annual Swan Derby, a community event featuring swan boat races, food, and live music to bring awareness to LVIM and its mission. Next, the leaders heard a very informative presentation at The Salvation Army in Lakeland and helped pack 150 kidsPACK boxes to feed homeless and under-served students when school is not in session. The busy youth donated items to the Dream Center of Lakeland’s COMMUNITY SHOPPE. The day’s agenda continued with stops at Parker Street Ministries to learn about its programs for growth in education, workforce readiness, desirable neighborhood, financial capacity and health/wellness, and VISTE, Volunteers in Service to the Elderly, where the students had fun decorating Thanksgiving bags for distribution.
November’s UthMpact Leadership Day featured a “Business” theme and the group’s first order of business was to assemble over 500 kidsPACK food boxes for students in need over the Thanksgiving Break. Then, it was off to Catapult Lakeland where the students learned about how the organization offers support, start-up resources, and educational programs for Lakeland’s entrepreneurs. The Poor Porker welcomed UthMpact teens for a great learning opportunity to hear guest speaker, Giovanna Favilli, chef/owner of Casita Verde, share how she launched her business with the help of Lakeland’s own Catapult Kitchen.
Third stop of the day took the students to the RP Funding Center, where the group enjoyed a behind the scenes facility tour and a Zoom chat with Lakeland Magic President, Hans Steinbrenner. Topping off UthMpact Leadership's Business Day was a trip to Polk County Waste & Recycling where the students learned about how they handle and decompose all of the county's trash and why certain items cannot be recycled.
In addition to monthly Leadership Days, UthMpact is creating awesome memes to celebrate the positives that most of Polk's youth are not engaging in risky behaviors and are doing the right thing. Members are also advocating for Mental Health & Wellness and added a new tab on the UthMpact website (www.UthMpact.org) to educate teens that mental illnesses are more common than most think - in fact, 1 in 6 youth experience a mental health disorder each year.
UthMpact sends a huge THANK YOU to our community partners for
helping to arrange and host these fun and informative Leadership Days!
We are all spending a lot of time with our families these days. Statistics show that parents and children who participate in activities together benefit in a variety of ways - building stronger relationships and fostering more effective communication. If you’re looking for fresh ways to fill the time with family fun over Holiday Break, here are 25 Creative Family Night Ideas, with online and offline options, shared by our friends at Messenger Kids. Put them on your fridge - they may come in handy next time you hear “I’m bored!”
This year has been challenging for everyone, so why not kick off the season of generosity by participating in GivingTuesday on December 1st and close out 2020 on a positive note!
GivingTuesday was launched in 2012 as a simple idea: to create a day that encourages people and organizations to give back by doing good. Over the past nine years, this idea has grown into a global movement that inspires hundreds of millions of people to give, collaborate, and celebrate generosity. People demonstrate generosity in many ways whether it’s helping a neighbor or stranger out, showing up for an issue or people we care about, or giving to causes we care about. Each act of generosity has the power to transform our communities and our world.
InnerAct Alliance and our coalition partners, StandUP Polk and UthMpact, are in need of donations to help bridge the shortfall in funding caused by COVID-19. Substance abuse prevention initiatives in the Lakeland and Polk County community include science-based education classes taught to nearly 15,000 students in 69 schools, as well as outreach to over 100,000 citizens via informative presentations and social norms marketing, a premier youth leadership program, and family-oriented awareness events such as the Annual Red Ribbon Campaign and motivational rallies for fifth-grade students countywide.
“Community engagement and support are vital to continue our agency’s programs to educate children, teens, and families about the dangers of alcohol, tobacco, and other drugs, along with bullying prevention. Any and all donations will be appreciated!” said Angie Ellison, executive director of InnerAct Alliance.
There are 3 quick and easy options to send your donation:
1) Simply scan the QR code (above) with a phone camera
2) PayPal: https://www.paypal.com/donate?hosted_button_id=UG8BET6TF2V28
3) Mail a check, payable to InnerAct Alliance, to 621 South Florida Ave, Lakeland, FL 33801
Written acknowledgement will be sent to donors upon receipt of their tax-deductible gift to InnerAct Alliance, a 501(c)(3) charitable organization. For questions about making a donation to InnerAct Alliance, please contact Angie Ellison at (863) 802-0777.
To read more about GivingTuesday, please visit www.givingtuesday.org. Your kind consideration is appreciated, and we wish you a safe, healthy, and Happy Holiday season!
InnerAct Alliance, and its youth coalition partner, UthMpact, are proud to be chosen as recipients of grant funding from the Florida’s Natural Growers Foundation, Inc. (FNGF), in Lake Wales, Florida, (www.floridasnatural.com) to address problems related to health, education and youth in the Citrus Belt of Florida.
InnerAct Alliance proposes to use the funds generously provided by the FNGF grant to support efforts of the UthMpact Leadership Program, which brings together distinguished young leaders representing every high school in the Polk County area and nearly every walk of life, to work proactively in schools and in the community. The youth leaders participate in extensive leadership training to prepare them to develop programs, activities, and services focused on creating positive change in their peer culture through social norms marketing, education, and philanthropy. The partnership between InnerAct Alliance and UthMpact has been successful in contributing to the steady decline in the abuse of alcohol among Polk County youth from 28% to 16% over the past 9 years.
UthMpact has formed two new committees in which members will endeavor to: 1) reduce the stigma surrounding mental health and promote self-care among teens; and 2) promote equity by “smashing common stereotypes” and championing tolerance. Members will create dynamic virtual messaging that features profiles of local teens who represent different ethnic and racial backgrounds and highlight their cultural differences while underscoring their similarities. Another objective will showcase mental health moments in which teens will share successful strategies to reduce stress with student peers and offer possible solutions and resources in the community.
“We are extremely grateful for the support of the Florida’s Natural Growers Foundation to help broaden the reach of UthMpact Leadership Program’s messaging and social norms efforts,” said Angie Ellison, executive director of InnerAct Alliance.
For additional information, please contact InnerAct Alliance and UthMpact at (863) 802-0777.
StandUP Polk and local law enforcement agencies were proud to participate in the DEA’s National Prescription Drug Take Back event this past Saturday, October 24th for Polk County residents to turn in expired or unwanted human and pet medication.
Polk County agencies collected an estimated 1,640.6 lbs. of pharmaceuticals that were safely disposed of via incineration. The drop-off sites that participated in the Medication Take Back included Auburndale Police Department, Bartow Police Department, Davenport Police Department, Haines City Police Department, Lake Alfred Police Department, Lake Hamilton Police Department, Lake Wales Police Department, Lakeland Police Department, and Winter Haven Police Department.
The latest event brings the total for collections held in Polk County to 22,296.6 lbs. of recovered pharmaceuticals dating back to 2010.
Unwanted medications may also be taken to the county’s six permanent drop sites, funded by Givewell Community Foundation in Lakeland, at the Police Department locations in: Auburndale (2 Bobby Green Plaza, weekdays 8-5); Haines City (35400 Hwy 27, weekdays 8-5); Lake Alfred (190 N. Seminole Avenue, 24hrs/7days); Lake Hamilton (100 Smith Avenue, weekdays 8-5); Lakeland (219 N. Massachusetts Avenue, 24hrs/7days); and Winter Haven (125 N. Lake Silver Drive NW, weekdays 8-5). Please note: only solids are accepted in permanent drop boxes – no liquids or syringes. Do not dispose of medication in the toilet to avoid harming lakes and ground water.
StandUP Polk is a community coalition working together to prevent harm and promote health through education, public awareness, and advocacy including strategies to prevent youth substance abuse. For more information, please contact StandUP Polk at (863) 802-0777.
In addition to October being National Red Ribbon Month, it is also National Bullying Prevention Month. Join us in celebrating UNITY DAY on Wednesday, October 21st by wearing the color orange to share a powerful message that we are together against childhood bullying and united in hope and support for kindness, acceptance, and inclusion.
Bullying is a form of aggression in which someone intentionally mistreats another person. It can come in many forms: verbal, relational aggression, cyber, and prejudicial.
We all have the power to address and discourage bullying of every kind. Be aware of the words you use and the actions you take. Practice being kind and tolerant of those you meet. Make sure anything you say in person or write online is kind. If you witness bullying, speak up to stop the bullying before it begins.
For resources and information about National Bullying Prevention Month, visit www.pacer.org/bullying and there’s still time to register and take part in the Red Ribbon Virtual Challenge at www.RedRibbonRun.com
When you see someone being unkind, speak up!
We need to be kind to ourselves and also to others.
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, October 24, 2020, from 10:00 am to 2:00 pm, for citizens to dispose of unwanted, unneeded, and expired medications in a safe manner. According to the 2018 National Survey on Drug Use and Health, 9.9 million Americans have misused controlled prescription drugs. The study shows that a majority of abused prescription drugs were obtained from family and friends, often from the home medicine cabinet. National Prescription Drug Take Back Day provides a responsible means of disposing of prescription drugs, while also educating the general public about the potential for abuse of medication.
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 in liquid and solid form, vitamins, and syringes for 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
Lakeland Police Department – 219 N. Massachusetts Avenue, Lakeland, 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
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, funded by GiveWell Community Foundation, 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). Please note: only solids are accepted in permanent drop boxes (no liquids or syringes). 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 20,656 pounds of recovered pharmaceuticals safely disposed of via incineration. StandUP Polk is a community coalition working together to prevent harm and promote health through education, public awareness, and advocacy including strategies to prevent youth substance abuse. For more information on the local Prescription Drug Take-Back event, please contact StandUP Polk at (863) 802-0777.
Saturday, October 10th is World Mental Health Day
Each year on October 10th, the World Health Organization encourages people across the globe to recognize World Mental Health Day. In 2020, the weight of the COVID-19 pandemic and unrest from other sources has heightened collective stress. In the midst of this uncertainty, World Mental Health Day's goal of raising awareness of the availability and benefits of mental health support offers a path toward relief. Seeking support is important for overall health and well-being - so reach out and know that you are not alone!
October is Safe Sleep Awareness Month and SIDS Awareness Month. In order to help reduce preventable sleep-related deaths in infants less than 1-year of age, Florida Healthy Start Coalition of Hardee, Highlands and Polk Counties is sharing the following valuable information to our community.
Sleep-related deaths are 100% preventable and consistently one of the leading causes of death in children under 1 in Polk. The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that infants sleep only on their back for every sleep by every caregiver until the child is one year of age. Infants should be placed alone in their crib and on their backs. There should be no bumpers, pillows, loose bedding, or other soft surfaces, such as stuffed animals, in the crib with the infant.
Caregivers responsible for the infant should never be under the influence of tobacco, alcohol, or other drugs. Also, caregivers should never share beds with the infant.
Polk County recognizes that this is a serious, but preventable issue. Together we can ensure all caregivers have access to education and resources on safe sleep practices. For more information, please visit the Florida Healthy Start website at www.healthystarthhp.org
More Susceptible to COVID-19 and Its Complications
People with substance use disorders (SUDs) may be more likely to become infected and die of COVID-19, according to recent study funded by the National Institutes of Health. The effect was strongest for those with opioid use disorder and tobacco addiction because their lungs and cardiovascular system may already be severely compromised due to substance abuse.
Drug use hinders the body’s ability to fight viral and bacterial infections, disrupting immune function. Study co-author, Dr. Nora Volkow, Director of the National Institute on Drug Abuse, explained, “Opioids, including but not limited to heroin, oxycodone, hydrocodone and fentanyl, work by slowing down the breathing rate. In addition, the chronic use of drugs such as tobacco, cocaine, and opioids are associated with heart problems, including risk for heart attacks and heart failure. The combination of the two leads to the increased risk of COVID and its complications.”
Join Us for the Red Ribbon Virtual Challenge
Can YOU Complete All the Challenges?
Registration is FREE at www.RedRibbonRun.com
Here's all you need to do:
1) Go to www.RedRibbonRun.com and click on the Registration Tab
2) Create a RunSignUp account
3) You will update your profile each week as you complete your challenges
4) Post your challenges on your Facebook page and use the hashtag #RedRibbonChallenge to receive more points
5) Participants will be eligible to earn a prize if they complete at least 15 of the challenge activities. Prize(s) will be distributed after Winter Break to participants in grades K-8 who have officially registered and completed 15 or more challenges.
Nutrition plays a huge part in staying healthy!
Nutrition helps increase energy, decrease risk of disease, and lowers blood pressure among so many other health benefits. Make sure you fill your plate with fruits and vegetables, whole grains, and lean proteins. Try to add either a fruit or veggie with each meal!
September 28th with Family Day – A Day to Eat Dinner with Your Children and ends on October 31st
fferent activity will be featured each week during October with themes of Nutrition, Healthy Mind/Healthy Body, Kindness & Tolerance, Help Save The Planet, and Healthy Lifestyle.
Statistics show that families who eat dinner and participate in activities together benefit in a variety of ways. Eating family meals and spending time together can help build stronger relationships and foster more effective communication. Children tend to be better students and become more well-adjusted teens so they may be less likely to abuse drugs.
For registration and information on the 2020 Red Ribbon Virtual Challenge, please v
InnerAct Alliance and its coalition partners, StandUP Polk and UthMpact, are proud to join in the national effort to promote family dinners as an effective way to reduce youth substance abuse and other risky behaviors. We encourage everyone to participate in Family Day™ – A Day to Eat Dinner with Your Children next Monday, September 28, 2020.
Family Day began in 2001 as a national effort to promote family dinners as an effective way to help kids grow up safe, healthy, and drug free. Research from The National Center on Addiction and Substance Abuse at Columbia University consistently finds that the more often children eat dinner with their families, the less likely they will be to smoke, drink, or use illegal substances. To sign the family day pledge and find helpful tips to talk with your children, please visit www.informedfamilies.org.
Another way to celebrate healthy living without harmful drugs is by participating in the 2020 Red Ribbon Virtual Challenge presented by InnerAct Alliance and Title Sponsor, Publix Super Markets, Inc.
The Red Ribbon Challenge will kick off on September 28 and continue during the month of October with . Children in grades K-8 can register for FREE and complete the challenges with family members and friends, post pictures of their activities, and earn cool prizes!
Additional information and online registration for the Red Ribbon Challenge can be found at: www.RedRibbonRun.com
How to Care for Yourself While
Practicing Physical Distancing
If you are feeling overwhelmed or mentally exhausted because of changes to our society brought on by COVID-19, you’re not alone. The pandemic has impacted millions of Americans physically, mentally and emotionally.
People across the country are experiencing increased levels of stress and fear because of the new disease as well as feelings of isolation brought on by physical distancing. Research from the Kaiser Family Foundation says 45% of adults report feelings of worry and stress related to COVID-19 that have negatively impacted their mental health. Feelings of anxiety are becoming more common as people are worried about themselves or their loved ones getting sick.
The Mental Health First Aid Blog (www.mhfa.org) offers these easy self-care strategies to help reduce feelings of depression and prevent anxiety while social distancing:
to keep your
body in top working order.
reduces symptoms of depression and
anxiety, whether we’re working out at home or taking a solo jog around the
tensing and relaxing muscle groups can help you relax voluntarily when feeling
overwhelmed, stressed or anxious.
exposure to light can improve symptoms of depression. If you can, open the
shades and let more sunlight in.
with the same compassion you would a friend.
Even if you can’t get
together face-to-face, you can stay connected to friends, family and neighbors
with phone calls, text messages, video chats and social media. If you’re
feeling lonely, sad or anxious, reach out to your social support networks.
Share what you are feeling and offer to listen to friends or family members
about their feelings. We are all experiencing this scary and uncertain time
7. . While you might want to stay up-to the minute with COVID-19 news, too much exposure can be overwhelming. Balance media consumption with other activities you enjoy, such as reading, cooking or listening to music.