Safe & Supported Program
Safe & Supported-Our Youth
Safe & Supported-Our Youth is a community-based program that involved the West Allis-West Milwaukee (WAWM) Family Resource Center and the West Allis-West Milwaukee Heroin/Opiate Task Force. The WAWM School District (a member of the Task Force) currently serves more than 4,000 students in three intermediate schools and three high schools. The project will begin with an assembly in the fall for all intermediate and high school students, to address drug and alcohol use, mental health, and living in a family of addiction and/or mental health. The target population for this project are students who indicate (post-assembly survey) that they would like to talk more about these concerns in a small group setting, as well as students referred by student services staff or those that have a drug or alcohol offense. Safe and Supported-Our Youth will deliver support and connection to resources from facilitators who bring life experience with addiction and mental health challenges. These facilitators will utilize the Botvin’s Life Skills Model to promote healthy alternatives to risky behavior through specific activities and curriculum. This project gives West Allis and West Milwaukee youth the opportunity to interact and be supported by same-age peers who are in similar situations, and in many cases, taking on “adult” responsibilities. Safe and Supported-Our Youth will also convene parent workshops 2xs a year to promote prevention strategies of substance use/abuse; knowledge of signs and symptoms of drug/alcohol use; information about what to look for as early indicators of use; and parenting tips to build on strengths in parenting and communicating with their child. Wellness, coping skills, and mental health will also be part of our discussion at the parenting workshops.
Safe and Supported-Our Youth will utilize the Evidence-Based Program, Botvin Life Skills, as the foundation for our programming with youth in Intermediate and High School as well as their parents/guardians. We selected this curriculum because it is based on activities that teach students the necessary skills to resist social (peer) pressures to smoke, drink and use drugs; it helps students to develop greater self-esteem and self-confidence; it enables students to effectively cope with anxiety; it increases their knowledge of the immediate consequences of substance abuse; and it enhances cognitive and behavioral competency to reduce and prevent a variety of health risk behaviors. This model is a good fit for our target population because it teaches strategies that strengthen protective factors. It does not simply teach them to say “no”; instead, it equips them with the tools and knowledge to help themselves. This model provides hope to those that may feel hopeless. It builds them up and teaches them to take care of themselves in a positive way. We will also utilize hand-outs from the Wisconsin Dept of Justice “Dose of Reality”.