We’re interviewing Paul Cleath, Communities That Care Coordinator in Iron County. 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 Iron County?
We started in May of 2017.
What kind of goals does CTC have for your community?
Right now, we’re in the phase of discovering what programs and services exists in our community through the Community Resource Survey. We do this so that we can build on what exists that addresses the identified risk factors that are affecting our youth and driving our county into first place in the entire UP for alcohol use in the 8th, 10th, and 12th grades. Being such a small community, we are not finding very much to support, so we anticipate having to institute something new. By November, our goal is to have our Community Action Plan in place, so we know exactly what we’re doing program-wise over next two years. And of course in 2019 we’ll have our second round of the CTC Youth Survey, which happens every two years in participating schools. Our goal for 2019 is to see a noted reduction in alcohol use among our teens.
We’re also working on building community awareness around issues that affect youth, and building community involvement in the coalition. Both of these are high on our priority list—CTC is really effective at making positive change, but only when the community gets on board. We’re also hoping to increase involvement with key leaders in county, making them more aware of CTC and the issues we champion.
Working with key leaders, our Maintenance and Funding Work Groups have the goal of developing an economic support structure for Iron County CTC programs and operations. While we are looking at all available resources, we would very much like for this economic stability to be derived from right here in Iron County. This would indicate community buy-in and dedication to the CTC process.
What kind of events has your coalition held or participated in recently?
Last year we participated in the Harvest & Haunt Fest, just letting people know we’re out there. This year, we’re amplifying our involvement in that event. Our Youth Involvement Work Group developed a “Stomp The Stigma” campaign to go along with the UP-wide “Stigma Stops Here 906” campaign we’re participating in with the other CTCs in the Upper Peninsula. The Iron County CTC Youth will host and manage a Stomp The Stigma obstacle course that we hope will attract a lot of kids and teens. To support the mission of CTC, we will have information available for all age groups, as well as set up a #StigmaStopsHere906 photo booth. Our goal is to raise awareness and participation from our community, including our youth.
Rooted Recreation is another initiative our Youth Involvement Work Group is launching. One of the main complaints among our youth is boredom, especially during the winter months. Rooted Recreation is designed to be a planned activity program, providing opportunity for youth to grow their roots deep into Iron County. We are designing activities that promote positive social interactions, adherence to positive community standards, and positive interactions with our adult population.
What are you most excited about coming up next?
We have some high school students starting their own film company, and they’re making an anti-stigma film to encourage youth to open up and ask for help when needed. As a video producer myself, I am looking forward to the interaction with these guys! They have great ideas and demonstrate great artistic ability and creativity!
Also, Iron County CTC is very involved in our local Drug Task Force. Our participation has caused this Task Force to make Prevention their main focus. Prior to our involvement, they only had Enforcement and Recovery in view, which is a non-ending and vicious cycle. In collaboration with the Drug Task Force, we have two big community-wide events coming up with a Prevention focus – one in October and one in March. We’re helping to write the programs for the events, secure funding, and bring in speakers.
I’m really excited about how youth are spearheading the “Stomp The Stigma” campaign at the Harvest & Haunt Fest. With the obstacle course, hashtag signs, and a photo booth, we’re going to be the main attraction for pre-teens and teens at this event, and we have a large space reserved for them, hopefully this will draw them away from the Beer Tent! There wasn’t really anything specifically for pre-teens and teens last year, and we’re excited to get this group involved at the festival with activities that will be fun but also give them information on real issues impacting their lives. Hopefully their parents will also catch on to the need our youth have for positive parenting and role modeling.
Iron County Communities That Care is funded by NorthCare Network and coordinated by Great Lakes Recovery Centers. Iron County Communities That Care is part of UP Coalition Network, an umbrella organization of the 14 CTCs covering all 15 counties of the UP.