GRANT COUNTY – Kayla Isaacson and Megan Watson are coalition specialists who work to deter substance abuse and empower youth in Grant County communities.
“The idea is that everything the coalition does is super-tailored to the community we’re in, so often we’ll see a lot of variation on the specific goals we’re working on and the strategies we’re using to get there. said Watson.
Isaacson is the coalition coordinator for the Soap Lake Prevention Coalition and Watson is the same for the Moses Lake Community Coalition. Watson previously spent two years with the Quincy Partnership for Youth.
Although Isaacson and Watson serve distinct communities, many of their goals and strategies are the same.
In both Soap Lake and Moses Lake, the coalitions focused on tobacco, alcohol and other drug use as well as mental health in the community.
Soap Lake has a strong focus on decreasing supportive attitudes towards underage substance use, reducing youth access to alcohol, tobacco and drugs, and building capacity for refusal and resistance.
Moses Lake focuses on academic performance, delinquency, suicide prevention, and negative childhood experiences.
Watson explained that healthy coping skills are important and have a significant impact on substance use, especially among young people.
“Kids don’t start using aimlessly,” Watson said. “There’s usually something behind it all, and it’s our job to really dig into the root causes of why and it has a lot to do with coping skills.”
Much of what Watson and Isaacson are doing to mitigate substance use and create healthier communities has to do with raising awareness. They provide information such as:
- Emotional self-regulation tools
- Family communication lessons
- Media campaigns to encourage healthy coping skills and open
- conversations about alcohol, tobacco and drugs
- Community education workshops
While they provide a wealth of information on a variety of general wellness topics, they also need to identify the issues their individual communities are facing and what would help them overcome those challenges, in a way that is accessible to them. .
“One of those things that you always have to keep in mind when implementing strategies in the community is what obstacles are our community going to face?” said Watson.
She explained that barriers can include more than economic status and racial equity, it can also be things like transportation and internet access.
One of the ways they work to make their material more accessible is by providing the material in print and in the media, as well as having English, Spanish and Russian versions.
Both Watson and Isaacson said it’s not easy trying to figure out what strategies are working in their respective communities and they constantly re-evaluate the things they do. They explained that a big obstacle is not having as much community involvement as they would like. Without feedback and support from their respective communities, they find it harder to determine what is most receptive in the communities and what their communities want the coalitions to look like. The bigger goal, they said, is to help these coalitions be able to be self-sufficient and important parts of the communities in which they find themselves.
“I think our overall goal is just to provide a place where people can come together and share ideas, concerns and resources, and just foster that collaboration between community members and organizations and other key leaders. other communities in Grant County,” Isaacson said.
Ultimately, Watson and Isaacson said they had a passion for their work and were just a bridge and a resource for a community to come together and do their part in creating a healthier future for everyone across the country.
“We focus on each specific community and their needs, wants and goals, but at the same time, as a county, as a state, as a nation, we have an overriding purpose and mission to having healthy young people, communities and families,” says Isaacson. “And I think the more coalitions there are working towards those goals, the more consistency there is and hopefully the more likely things will go the way we want.”
Contact the coalitions
Soap Lake Prevention Coalition on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/SoapLakePrevention
Moses Lake Community Coalition on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/MLCommunityCoalition
or email the coordinators at:
Rebecca Pettingill can be reached at [email protected] For more coverage, download the Columbia Basin Herald app – available for iOS and Android devices.