Five Town CTC celebrates 10 years, positive new data

May 08, 2014

2014 marks 10 years since the Five Town Communities That Care Coalition began promoting healthy youth development in Appleton, Camden, Hope, Lincolnville, and Rockport.

Over this period, the Coalition has engaged the community in a united effort to reduce the incidence of problem adolescent behaviors such as substance abuse, violence, delinquency, school dropout, teenage pregnancy, and suicide. New data shows the effort is paying off with marked reductions in these behaviors.

Ten years ago, the area was reeling from the aftermath of a series of tragedies involving its youth. In 2001 two recent grads were lost to a drunken driving accident, a senior to a drowning accident where alcohol was involved, and five high school students to suicide. Combined with a move to a totally new high school facility that same year and the events of Sept. 11, it was a very hard year. Many youth were clearly in crisis, and the community rallied around the Communities That Care model of prevention to create positive change.

Members of the Coalition dug into data on rates of local adolescent substance use and other problem behaviors. They also learned about underlying factors that put kids at risk for these behaviors or protected against them. Taking into account the unique attributes of the Five Town community, the Coalition selected programs, policies, and practices that prioritized healthy youth development, and engaged multiple partner agencies in their implementation.

The STAR afterschool skill-building program is a prime example of prevention programming at work. STAR is based on the idea that youths who are given the opportunity to learn skills in a supportive and prosocial environment, are recognized for their mastery of those skills, and whose individual characteristics are nurtured, are more likely to become bonded to those providing the opportunities and recognition. Once bonded, participants are more likely to accept and internalize prevention messages and standards for healthy behavior.

Ten years into this effort, the community has reason to celebrate. The 2014 rates for adolescent substance use and anti-social behaviors are significantly down compared to 2004 benchmark rates. The number of local 10th-grade students who have ever tried alcohol fell substantially, for example, as did the number of 10th-graders who reported using marijuana.

To see the data on 2004-2014 reductions in local adolescent substance use and antisocial behaviors, visit fivetownctc.org/ten-year-charts.

There is still much work to be done. Past 30-day alcohol and marijuana use among local 12th-graders are still above the national average, for example. To continue its effort for another 10 years and build on current successes, Five Town CTC requires the support of the community. Those wishing to make a donation may do so online at fivetownctc.org/participate/donate, or via post to Five Town CTC, PO Box 1135, Rockport, ME, 04856.

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