Substance Education and Awareness
In 2013, City of Boulder voters approved a tax on the sale of recreational marijuana. Boulder Revised Code Section 3-14-1 expresses Council’s intent to use revenues “…for public safety, enforcement and administrative purposes and for comprehensive substance abuse programs including, without limitation, prevention, treatment, education, responsible use, intervention, and monitoring, with an emphasis on youth…”
On Nov. 17, 2015 council authorized the city manager to release a Request for Proposals (RFP) for integrated substance abuse prevention education programs, including recreational marijuana, aimed at children, youth and families. In 2016 the city executed a five-year contract with Boulder County Community Services (BCCS) to implement the Substance Education and Awareness (SEA) program. Through the SEA program, the city hoped to achieve four basic goals:
- Widespread community distribution and awareness of information and programs developed;
- Shift community perceptions of risk associated with substance use, including the impact of drugs, alcohol, recreational marijuana, and abuse of prescription medications on children and youth;
- Prevent/reduce youth abuse of alcohol and recreational drugs including marijuana; and
- Reduce accidental ingestion of marijuana and other drugs.
SEA Program Activities
Since 2016, BCCS and several subcontractors have engaged in numerous activities to disseminate information about substance abuse, educate youth and adult influencers and provide opportunities for target populations to participate in alternative activities. To date, SEA-funded programs have directly reached 2200 Boulder youth and SEA-funded media campaigns have made an estimated 10 million impressions in the Boulder market.
BCCS and its partners have developed consistent, community-wide messaging to be implemented in combination with evidence-based interventions including:
- Implementation of a safe storage campaign for all substances, designed to reach adults and retailers;
- Break the Cycle peer-based group intervention to prevent initiation of injection drug use;
- Implementation of evidence-based Effekt program in two middle schools;
- Implementation of evidence-based Sources of Strength program in five middle schools;
- Expansion of promising practice TOP curriculum and health promotion activities with Latino youth in one middle school;
- Training in substance abuse prevention and positive youth development for all YMCA staff, coaches and volunteers;
- First Friday social activities for youth, and service learning projects for middle school youth; and
- Physical activity for youth at risk of substance abuse.
Because changing community perceptions and behavior is a long-term process, the SEA contract with BCCS is a term of five years, with funding contingent on annual budget approval by City Council and achievement of annual program benchmarks and outcomes. Modifications to the project may be made annually.
In 2016, the City contracted with OMNI Institute to evaluate the effectiveness of the SEA program. OMNI has completed two evaluation reports for the SEA program.
Matt Sundeen, Community Programs Manager, [email protected], 303-441-1913.