Commentary: CHI makes terrific strides during 20112011 was a very successful year for the Chemical Health Initiative of Goodhue County. The wonderful work accomplished could not have been done without the dedication and efforts of the members of our CHI organization which include the CHI Advisory Board, School CHAT teams, and local CHI Community Councils which are established in Red Wing, Cannon Falls, Goodhue, Zumbrota and Kenyon-Wanamingo.
By: Stacy Larson and Julie Hatch, The Republican Eagle
2011 was a very successful year for the Chemical Health Initiative of Goodhue County. The wonderful work accomplished could not have been done without the dedication and efforts of the members of our CHI organization which include the CHI Advisory Board, School CHAT teams, and local CHI Community Councils which are established in Red Wing, Cannon Falls, Goodhue, Zumbrota and Kenyon-Wanamingo.
The following is a brief list of the key 2011 CHI initiatives targeted at creating community environments that support chemical health for our kids and families which demonstrate the level of dedication and service that all of our local CHI community council members provided in the past 12 months:
• Social host ordinance: The ordinance is now in place in the following Goodhue County areas: Red Wing, Kenyon, outlying and rural areas of Goodhue County, City of Goodhue, Cannon Falls and Zumbrota.
• Alcohol seller/server training ordinance: The training ordinance is now in place in the following Goodhue County areas: Red Wing, Wanamingo, Kenyon, Goodhue, Cannon Falls and outlying and rural areas of Goodhue County.
• CHI scholarships: All of the local CHI councils have made strides to implement a CHI college scholarship program in each of our school districts. The scholarship is offered to a high school senior who has demonstrated dedication in promoting chemical health within the school and local community.
In the area of chemical health awareness:
• All of the local CHI councils promoted chemical health awareness at open houses, holiday events, high school sports registration meetings, parent/teacher conferences. In addition, there were the Cannon Falls Daddy/Daughter Dance, Red Wing CHI winter ativity event, Zumbrota CHI town hall meeting, Kenyon Teen Challenge Choir event, Goodhue Christmas Around Town, KW CHI Fifth Quarter, just to name a few.
• CHI councils also promoted chemical health awareness during local summer community events such as Goodhue Volksfest, Cannon Valley Fair, Goodhue County Fair, Covered Bridge Days, Wanamingo Fourth of July, Red Wing River City Days and Kenyon Rose Days;
• CHI Sunday: The CHI faith leader groups and organizations in our Goodhue County communities participated in the fifth countywide “CHI Sunday” initiative which promotes parent/child communication around drug and alcohol issues.
• S.A.F.E. included two prescription drug drop off events in 2011 where communities encouraged citizens to dispose of their unused/unwanted prescription and over the counter drugs.
In addition to local residents who worked to establish the presence of the CHI in their communities, Goodhue County Education District made great strides forward in establishing prevention programs and policies with the school environment. These include:
• School Chemical Health Assessment Teams or CHAT: The Kenyon-Wanamingo, Cannon Falls, Zumbrota-Mazeppa, Pine Island and Goodhue districts have teams comprising dedicated superintendents, principals, counselors, nurses, social workers, health teachers, secretaries, school resource officers and treatment experts to plan and implement programs, policies and procedures in effort to reduce and prevent youth substance use within their schools and communities.
School CHATs conducted a thorough review of district policies and procedural guidelines pertaining to student chemical-use issues and have developed a uniform guideline throughout Goodhue County for consistency in all Goodhue County Education District Schools.
• Drug and alcohol recognition training.
The Kenyon-Wanamingo, Zumbrota-Mazeppa and Cannon Falls districts held training for all staff at the beginning of the 2011-12 school year on how to recognize students who may be under the influence or in need of medical attention for earlier intervention efforts to assist students and families.
Also in Kenyon-Wanamingo, CHAT provided in-depth training on assessment and screening for students who may be under the influence or are in need of medical attention. Training is planned in late January 2012 for the Cannon Falls and Zumbrota-Mazeppa CHATs.
The CHI appreciates all of the citizens who have been involved in these successful initiatives in 2011. The new year promises to bring many more accomplishments in this critical arena of chemical health promotion for kids and families.
With the continued dedication and hard work of community members, school districts and the CHI staff, 2012 will move Goodhue County even closer to the CHI goal of healthy kids, healthy families and healthy communities.
Stacy Larson is community prevention director/IT manager with Goodhue County Chemical Health Initiative. Julie Hatch is education and prevention director/grant manager.