Healthier Rusk County Youth

Mobilizing local youth to reduce behavioral health and AODA issues in Rusk County

Full Project Name:Creating a Healthier Rusk County Through Policy Change, Mobilizing Youth, & Resource DevelopmentPrimary Community Organization:Indianhead Action AgencyPrimary Academic Partner:Angela Stanley, PhD, PediatricsAward Amount:$250,000
Award Date
January2015
Project Duration:30 months

Project Description Narrative:


Due to high percentage of Rusk County youth suffering from issues around alcohol and other drug abuse (AODA) and behavioral health, local agencies sought to mobilize area youth to recommend and advocate for AODA and positive youth development policies that community/local school boards can adopt and enforce.

Using Teen Intervene, a peer intervention and referral mechanism, along with poverty simulations, restorative circles, and community feedback, partners planned to work with at-risk youth to create social, environmental and policy change by institutionalizing referral, intervention, and teen leadership programming to increase protective factors, support earlier intervention, and build a community that values youth.

Community partners:

Indianhead Community Action Agency (primary community partner), Rusk County Health & Human Services (Public Health), Rusk County Youth Council, Rusk Restorative Youth Programs, Wisconsin Fresh Start

Outcomes & Lessons Learned:


• Developed Teen Intervene, a peer intervention and referral mechanism, implementing the program as policy within all Rusk County Schools

• Designed a Teen Leadership Academy and embedded program into the Rusk County Youth Council

• Documented a change in attitude and perception of youth within Rusk County

• Documented a significant drop in substance abuse rates by teens, especially among participants in the Teen Leadership Academy

• Project partners leveraged over $318,000 with AHW funds

• Presented at the 2015 Wisconsin Prevent Suicide Conference in 2015

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