We’re interviewing Karianne Lesperance, Communities That Care Coordinator in Menominee 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 Menominee County?
We established our CTC in July 2017, so we’ve been here a little over one year. Our county works closely with Marinette County just over the border in Wisconsin, so we’re actually a shared coalition—Communities That Care of Marinette & Menominee Counties. Cindy Grabowski is my partner Coordinator in Marinette.
What kind of goals does CTC have for your community?
Our overall goal, and one that a lot of community members join for, is to make a better community. We do that by looking at local risk and protective factors that our youth are dealing with, based on the results of the CTC Youth Survey that goes out in the schools. Risk factors increase the likelihood of youth getting involved in risky behaviors, and protective factors help buffer and protect youth against risk.
We’re excited to announce our priorities for our counties, which were voted on by over 1,100 community members. Our two priority risk factors are “Favorable Attitudes Toward Drug Use” and “Poor Family Management.” Our top protective factor is to increase options around “Community Involvement With Prosocial Behavior.” Moving forward, these risk and protective factors will be the focus of our Community Action Plan.
What kind of events has your coalition held or participated in recently?
We held Do It for Daniel in April this spring, which was our first Suicide Prevention Work Group event. Last month, we had a representative from HIDTA in Colorado come speak about the impact of legalizing marijuana. We planned that event because a CTC member stood up at a meeting many months ago and said, “I want to learn more about what to expect if marijuana is legalized here.”
We also did a NAS summit last month. NAS stands for Neonatal Abstinence Syndrome, which is when babies are born addicted to drugs. Providers, healthcare workers, and community members came together to talk about this, and the opioid crisis. And our Youth Involvement Work Group did a breakout challenge at the junior high spring fling last year.
What are you most excited about coming up next?
I’m really excited about our Community Action Planning session. Our community has been ready to do things and we’ve put them on hold as we started the CTC process. It’ll be great to get our plan on paper, develop some solid goals, and start implementing the plan. Our community members have some great ideas and we want to bring lots of programming to our local youth.
We’re also looking to grow our coalition, and encourage people to get on board. We’re always seeking parents, professionals, and youth to bring their skills to the table. It’s only a commitment of a few hours each month. Anyone who’s interested in creating a safer, healthier community can reach out to me (see below) or to Cindy (firstname.lastname@example.org or 906-863-5665 x1033).
Communities That Care of Marinette & Menominee Counties is funded by NorthCare Network and coordinated by Menominee County Intermediate School District. Communities That Care of Marinette & Menominee Counties is part of UP Coalition Network, an umbrella organization of the 14 CTCs covering all 15 counties of the UP.