TOWNSHEND — West River Valley Thrives, a substance use prevention coalition in Windham County, has received a $125,000 Continuation Grant from the Drug Free Communities Support Program (DFC). This funding will allow Thrives to continue its work with local community partners that includes identifying and reducing risk factors that can lead to substance misuse by teens and young adults.
Founded in 1997, the DFC is the nation’s largest effort to mobilize communities to prevent substance use. This partnership between the White House Office of National Drug Control Policy and the Center for Disease Control, funds approximately 700 coalitions across the country annually.
Thrives was founded in 2012 by community members and partners to serve towns in the Windham Central Supervisory Union school district including: Townshend, Newfane, Jamaica, Wardsboro, Marlboro, Windham and Brookline. The organization received its first round of DFC funding in 2015 that allowed the coalition to build a strong network of partners and effectively expand the scope and reach of their work.
To date, the Coalition has been seen as a pivotal component of lowering risk-taking behaviors and substance use among Windham County teens and young adults.Thrives’ main measures of success come from the national bi-anual Youth Risk Behavior Survey, or YRBS, which monitors the health-risk behaviors that contribute to the leading causes of death and disability among youth and young adults. Since 2013, the Windham Central Supervisory Union District’s YRBS data shows a drop in alcohol use by 9 percent, tobacco use by 8 percent and has decreased students’ perception of ease of access to alcohol by over 10 percent.
Thrives Director, Meg Gonzalez says, “We are thrilled to have received this grant award as it validates the hard work and progress made over the past half decade, while recognizing the important work yet to be done.”
With this new funding, the Coalition plans to pursue its efforts to reduce youth substance use by growing its community partnerships, continuing its work with Leland & Gray Middle and High School students, staff and families and serving as a resource and support for parents, elected officials, businesses and residents in the towns it serves.
More information about Thrives can be found at the website at WRVThrives.org.