Local organization provides prevention training
Rockport — Maine, Michigan and the South American country Colombia seem to have little in common on the surface, but members of Communities That Care organizations have found there are similarities when it comes to substance abuse by younger members of the population.
This week, representatives from Colombia and Michigan came to Maine to learn from Five Town Communities That Care staff what has made the program so successful in hopes of making it work in their communities.
"We've embraced it and have been using it, now we can train others," Five Town CTC Executive Director Dalene Dutton said.
Described by University of Washington School of Social Work Assistant Director Kevin Haggerty as "a great example of the process," Five Town CTC was formed in 2003. Now, the local program, serving Appleton, Camden, Hope Lincolnville and Rockport, is being touted as one of the best in the country and training leaders of similar programs in other states and countries.
Five Town CTC is a coalition-based community prevention operating system ... that uses a public health approach to prevent youth problem behaviors including underage drinking, tobacco use, violence, delinquency, school dropout and substance abuse, according to its website. The model for CTC was developed at University of Washington by the Social Development Research Group, of which Haggerty is a part.
Dutton has furthered her involvement with the program to become a certified trainer of trainers, including the recent session with Michigan and Columbia representatives.
"I am delivering a training so they can be certified," she said. "There is now sufficient demand."
"Five Town CTC is a national model," Haggerty said. "Maine is known for its lighthouses and [Five Town CTC] is a beacon." [Five Town CTC has] demonstrated a significant difference in changes in behavior to the point others are coming to you."
Dutton pointed out no two CTC programs are exactly alike.
"There's a common framework, but the way it plays out is based on each community," she said.
Mayra Paredes said her Colombian organization has tried many programs that do not work.
"We are people interested in working for prevention," she said. "In this relationship with the University of Washington, we learned it works. It doesn't work because the agency is moving the community but because the community cares."
She said the program in Colombia — Comunidades Que se Cuidan, or CQC, operated by Nuevos Rumbos — is striving to "build positive futures" for the youth in that country, long known for its drug trade.
"We have worked for some time in Colombia but we are here because we want to learn," Parades said.
Juliana Mejia said Nuevos Rumbos is a nonprofit organization that receives funding from a number of sources, including the government. Nuevos Rumbos was established more than 30 years ago with a mission of researching and preventing drug abuse, she said.
"We are a country that produces drugs and takes drugs," Parades said. " ... [but] alcohol is the biggest problem [among youth]."
Michigan representatives Katie Ritzenhein and Gery Shelafoe noted alcohol is a problem there as well, in part due to its legality in the United States.
"Alcohol is our big priority too," Shelafoe said. "Binge drinking is huge for really young kids, like eighth-grade."
Dutton noted the CTC program involves numerous agencies and many perspectives, which allows for a consensus on how to proceed with prevention programs. Ritzenhein said a diverse group of people "sit at the table" in Michigan, from doctors to retired people, to teachers, to a bank teller and radio station owner.
"It's a very large table," Haggerty said with a laugh.
"That's part of why it works," Dutton added. " ... Not only is it possible to make these changes [happen] but we're doing it."
Courier Publications Editor Stephanie Grinnell can be reached at 236-8511 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
(207) 236-8511 ext. 302
Stephanie has served as editor of Camden Herald since its return in April 2012.
Previously, she was editor of VillageSoup's Capital Weekly in Augusta and has worked a number of years in the newspaper business from southern Maine to Waldo County.
Outside the office, she enjoys reading, cooking and gardening.
Stephanie lives in Washington with her husband Jeff, four children, a dog named Chewbacca, a rabbit and two chickens.