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How do you get organizations and key people in rural communities involved in helping prevent youth substance abuse?
That’s the question the Coalition for Healthy Youth and Lancaster County Partners for Youth hope to answer for attendees of their 2012 Prevention of Youth Substance Abuse in Rural Communities conference next week.
This year’s conference will emphasize Reaching Out to Missing Partners.
The fifth annual conference is Wednesday, Aug. 1, through Friday, Aug. 3, at the University of South Carolina Lancaster.
Pre-conference sessions on grant writing and developing and nurturing a child’s sense of uniqueness and self-worth are Monday and Tuesday, July 30-31. The first session is full, though seats are still available in Tuesday’s session.
Last year’s conference was a great success, with about 150 attendees, said Lancaster County Partners for Youth Executive Director Sharon Novinger. She said she expects this year’s conference to be even better.
“So many times, people associate youth substance abuse with big cities and urban settings,” Novinger said.
“But it’s a reality in rural communities, too, and we have our own set of issues because we have less resources.
“This is the only conference of its kind; the only one that addresses only rural problems,” she said.
“And that’s important because our problems are different, and it’s also an opportunity for prevention specialists from across the country to come together to look at the problems that are unique to rural communities.”
Novinger said the goal of this year’s conference is to teach those fighting the cause how to get more parties involved, such as parents, schools, youth groups, civic groups, health-care organizations or law enforcement.
“The question is how to get the whole community to focus on preventing youth substance abuse in rural communities,” Novinger said.
Experts to speak
In keeping with the theme, organizers have selected a host of nationally recognized experts to talk about proven ways to draw other community members into the fight.
Among them are this year’s keynote speakers:
• Milton “Bigg Milt” Creagh, inspirational youth speaker, W.K. Kellog Foundation expert in residence and television host, speaking on “Parenting is Prevention.”
• Jermaine Galloway, Idaho law enforcement, alcohol, drug education and enforcement expert and developer of the “You Can’t Stop What You Don’t Know Program” substance abuse program, speaking on “High in Plain Sight.”
• Deb Sofield, president of the Deb Sofield Executive Speech & Presentations Coaching Co., expert on communications and governmental affairs, speaking on “Misfits, Mavericks, Renegades and Rascals.”
While the keynote speakers are worth the registration price of the conference alone, the real learning gets done during the three days’ worth of breakout sessions taught by local, state, national and international experts.
The topics are diverse, ranging from the tongue-in-cheek “Guaranteed Ways to Keep Parents Out of Your Prevention Program,” to “Inter-generational Mentoring” to the deadly serious “Wasted and Baked: Trends in Underage Drinking and Drug Use.”
The 2012 Prevention of Youth Substance Abuse in Rural Communities: Reaching Out to Missing Partners conference is geared toward prevention specialists, youth service workers, nurses, clergy, teachers, counselors and law enforcement, but is open to everyone with registration.
Registration for the three-day conference is $200 and includes access to all conference sessions, breakfast, lunch and light snacks each day. Single-day registration is available for $125 and the cost of Tuesday’s pre-conference session is $200.
If three participants register from the same organization, the third registrant gets in free.
For details and registration information, visit www.lcpartnersforyouth.org/Coalition or call (803) 283-4995.
Contact reporter Reece Murphy at (803) 283-1151