What began as a movement in Fulton County to prevent substance abuse among middle school and high school youth is celebrating its 10th anniversary with positive results.
Healthy Choices Caring Communities (HC3) has assisted in decreasing alcohol use 20 percent in current use rates among students in grades 6-12 and 50 percent in current use rates among youth 17 and older in the county since 2005, according to Program Director Beth Thomas.
In that same time period with current rate use, county youth in grades 6-12 have demonstrated a four percent decrease in marijuana use and a 13 percent decrease in tobacco use; for youth 17 and older, the statistics in both categories show a one percent decrease.
HC3 began in May of 2007 as the Partnership for a Drug-Free Fulton County, a group of community members concerned about high rates of binge drinking among county youth. The group has grown to include representatives from the following sectors: youth, parents, business, media, schools, youth organization, law enforcement, the faith-based community, civic organization, health care, government, and substance treatment agencies.
Its goals have remained to decrease youth access to alcohol, marijuana, tobacco, and prescription opiates. To that end, the group has: established an Opiate Task Force; offered 14 large-scale targeted parenting events with over 600 people participating; developed Seller-Server (ASK) Training since 2010; collaborated with law enforcement to implement SPEAKOUT, an anonymous tip line to report underage substance abuse; established a Youth Advisory Council, currently with 48 youth members representing six local high schools; and creating a blog, www.hc3partnership.wordpress.com, which has reached over 1,350 individual visitors since 2016, and a website, HC3Partnership.org.
HC3 meets at noon the second Tuesday of each month in the Fulton County Administration Building second floor conference room, 152 S. Fulton St., in Wauseon. For more information, contact Thomas at 419-337-0915 or email HC3Partnership@gmail.com.