IRON COUNTY – The Iron County Prevention Coalition, a group comprised of people interested in the development of local youth, recently received two grants to help fund underage drinking prevention and suicide prevention efforts in the county. The grants were awarded from Parents Empowered, a state underage drinking prevention campaign, and the National Alliance on Mental Illness.
Coming less than a year after it was organized, these grants are the first the coalition has received, said Heidi Baxley, the Iron County Prevention Coalition coordinator. They were awarded in the amount of $10,000 from Parents Empowered and $8,400 from NAMI.
The Iron County Prevention Coalition is made up of approximately 35 to 40 people from different local agencies and meets monthly to determine ways to reduce the predictors of problem behaviors in the community, Baxley said.
With the Parents Empowered grant, the coalition plans to help educate the public about the resources available at www.parentsempowered.org, a program focused on helping parents understand the importance of knowing where their kids are and what they are doing, Baxley said.
The state program places an emphasis on getting to know friends and educating parents about the realities of underage drinking. Baxley said more than half of underage drinkers in the county get their alcohol from parties and from adults 21 or older.
With the NAMI grant, the coalition plans to offer QPR classes to the community. QPR is a suicide prevention technique, which stands for question, persuade and refer. Baxley said the classes will allow more community members, especially those who work with youth and families, to understand exactly what to do when they see the signs and symptoms of suicide. The two-hour training course will include dinner and free child care to incentivize more people to register, Baxley added.
The NAMI grant will also allow the coalition to introduce Hope Squads into the local schools. Hope Squads, originally initiated by Hope4Utah as a suicide prevention tactic in schools, are “the eyes and ears of (a) school,” according to the Hope4Utah website. “They are comprised of students who are trained to watch for at-risk students – provide friendship, identify warning signs, and seek help from adults.” Iron County Prevention Coalition also has plans to celebrate National Suicide Prevention Week in the local schools, thanks to the grant.
In addition to these efforts, the coalition is focused on assessing the good that is going on in Iron County and doing what is needed to fill in the gaps, Baxley said. The grants will last for a year and Baxley said community members should expect to see an increased presence of the Iron County Prevention Coalition at different community events and in the schools.
“We’re really trying to make ourselves more known in the community so we can get these resources out there to families,” Baxley added.