We’re interviewing Mary LeDoux, Communities That Care Coordinator in Houghton and Keweenaw Counties. Communities That Care (CTC) is a type of coalition focused on preventing youth problem behaviors. You can find your local CTC at www.UPprevention.org.
How long has CTC been going in Houghton and Keweenaw County?
We’ve had CTC in our area since 2016. We’re getting ready to do our second round of the CTC Youth Survey in schools in December. This will help us track changes in youth behavior over time, and make sure we’re working with up-to-date information about our young people.
What kind of goals does CTC have for your community?
In our vision statement, we talk about working to create a healthy, safe environment through education and relationships. We want to make a stronger community that enhances protective factors and minimizes risk factors. Our two priority risk factors right now are low perceived risk of harm of drug use and depressive symptoms. Suicide rates in young people are going up and we have a special focus on that, too.
What kind of events has your coalition held or participated in recently?
We helped with the Portage Health Foundation CRAVE21 Challenge last fall with Rise Together and Dial Help. Then in January, we helped organize the PHF celebration event for the CRAVE21 winners, which was half a day of laser tag and half a day of bowling. It was really cool because Respawn donated all the tickets for the laser tag, so we had this business actively supporting our youth that way. We were also part of Treat Street last year.
We had a logo contest for sixth through twelfth graders. We got a lot of great designs entered—it was hard to choose a winner! The winning designer, Inseo Yoon, worked with Professor Adolphs from Finlandia University to finalize her logo to be used professionally. So she got to build her skills around graphic design, too.
Our Youth Involvement Work Group was at the Fourth of July parade in Lake Linden this year, giving out candy with information about CTC and safe prescription drug disposal cards. We participated in the prescription drug disposal campaign that all the CTCs in the UP worked on, getting info out to pharmacies, businesses, and agencies. We helped with Synar education for businesses that sell tobacco to make sure they are aware of tobacco laws and not selling to youth.
We’ve also had some mini Community Board Orientations. We’re hoping to start doing these on a more monthly basis that are topic-driven. We want it to be as easy as possible for people to get educated about CTC.
What are you most excited about coming up next?
On September 1 from 5pm to 8pm, we’re doing a Family Fun Fair, an alcohol-free family event with a street dance, games, face painting with students from Finlandia University, and a magician. Food and drinks will also be available. We’re hoping to get a bounce house and roller derby demonstrations, too. It will be free to the public and we’ll also be accepting donations for CTC. The money will stay in the community for prevention. This event will be at St. Peter and Paul Lutheran Church in Houghton.
Our new logo is now all set to go, and we’re really excited to start using it in the community. We’re getting a new banner from Koski Signs in Hancock. They worked hard to help us find the best option for a banner and gave us a nice discount. We really appreciate it when businesses can support our prevention efforts like this—we probably couldn’t have gotten a banner without that discount.
Finally, we’re participating with other CTCs to enhance QPR training in the UP, which Superior Health Foundation funded. QPR stands for Question, Persuade, Refer; it’s an evidence-based suicide prevention training that only takes one hour, and both youth and adults can take it. A local volunteer will get trained to provide QPR to the public, with no charge for their time. We want more people in the community who can recognize the warnings signs of suicide and get people help. So far, we have Girl Scouts, Big Brothers Big Sisters, Finlandia University, and a few more who are interested in getting QPR training. Hopefully we can saturate the community with this information and save lives.
To get involved in CTC in Houghton or Keweenaw Counties, contact Mary at 906-482-9077 or HoughtonKeweenawCTC@gmail.com. You can find more info at www.HoughtonKeweenawCTC.com or www.facebook.com/hkctcup.
Houghton/Keweenaw CTC is funded by NorthCare Network and coordinated by Dial Help. Houghton/Keweenaw CTC is part of UP Coalition Network, an umbrella organization of the 14 CTCs covering all 15 counties of the UP.