Coalitions in Action: Page Alliance for Community Action Makes Prescription Drug Prevention “Invincible”
Inspired by a previous successful community event and recent survey data indicating that the county had a prescription drug abuse issue, the Page Alliance for Community Action in Luray, Va., hosted a free outdoor movie night to bring together the community while educating about prescription drug safety.
“We decided to have a movie night because we wanted to plan an event where we could get an audience of adults in the community,” said Program Director Megan Gordon. “We thought hosting a family event would be the best way to reach this audience; in the past, we’ve found that we are more likely to get an audience if we offer something for the entire family. We hoped to share our needs assessment data with the community and increase awareness of the dangers of prescription drugs and encourage safe storage and disposal.”
A needs assessment of the community found that the most reported opiates came from family and friends, and young adults between the ages of 18 – 25 were more likely to abuse prescription drugs than heroin. In response, the coalition’s movie night was co-sponsored by the local sheriff’s office and held at a local church. The coalition chose to show Invincible, specifically picking a sports movie to draw a bigger family crowd. The event was marketed through the school system, radio stations and social media, offering free admission, popcorn and soft drinks.
The event was a huge success with approximately 170 people in attendance. The coalition distributed Deterra bags for the safe disposal of prescription medicine and shared information about prescription safety. After the success of the movie night, the event will be expanded to other towns this summer in the coalition’s service area with a partnership with the Chamber of Commerce and the Sheriff’s Department.
“My advice for other coalitions is to get a feel for your community and what draws them out,” said Gordon. “Coordinate multiple groups and sectors to sponsor your event, it’s easier to see what people want and build partnerships when you create an event together.”
Page Alliance for Community Action is a member of the Northwestern Community Services, including the counties of Warren, Shenandoah, Clark, Frederick, Page and the city of Winchester. Located in the Shenandoah Valley of Virginia, approximately 24,000 people live in Page County. The county is extremely rural, with a 96 percent Caucasian demographic.
In addition to hosting a movie night to address the problem, the coalition participated in CADCA’s Medicine Safety Youth Educators pilot program, which trained teen coalition leaders on the free, evidence based Over-the-Counter Medicine Safety Program so that they could teach the curriculum to 5th and/or 6th graders in their community. Two Luray High School seniors taught the program lessons to 82 Luray Middle School 6th graders. The program took place two days a week for five weeks. Awareness about medicine safety increased from 64 percent on the pre-test to 82 percent on the post-test. The high school mentors said it was the best thing they’ve ever done. The program will continue in the spring at the other middle school in Luray.
The mission of CADCA (Community Anti-Drug Coalitions of America) is to strengthen the capacity of community coalitions to create and maintain safe, healthy and drug-free communities globally. This is accomplished by providing technical assistance and training, public policy advocacy, media strategies and marketing programs, training and special events.