Impacting Positive Youth Development in Rusk County

Understanding community needs to identify evidence-based prevention and intervention strategies for Rusk County youth

Full Project Name:Impacting Positive Youth Development in Rusk County Through Prevention & InterventionPrimary Community Organization:Indianhead Community Action AgencyPrimary Academic Partner:Sadhana Dharmapuri, PediatricsAward Amount:$200,000
Award Date
January2013
Project Duration:24 months

Project Description Narrative:


In 2008, more than 400 stakeholders contributed to the developmed of the Rusk County Community Health Improvement Process and Plan, which identified three priority issues: underage alcohol use, mental health, and access to care. In response, a coalition of community partners aim to engage in a problem-solving process to address youth substance abuse and behavioral health issues, and promote healthy youth development in Rusk County.

This project aims to develop a comprehensive approach, beginning with a community-wide needs assessment and development of a county-wide coalition, that will integrate primary and secondary evidence-based models for prevention and intervention.

Community partners:
Rusk County Community Connections (RC3), Rusk County Health and Human Services, Children & Family Services, Rusk County Health and Human Services, Public Health, Rusk County Youth Council, Rusk Restorative Youth Programs

Additional MCW academic partners:
Gayathri Chelvakumar, Pediatrics; Jennifer Schroeder, Pediatrics

Outcomes & Lessons Learned:


• Conducted communitywide needs assessment around behavioral health issues among Rusk County youth, surveying residents on community perceptions and initiating meetings with Rusk County health care providers to assess gaps in existing services

• Identified evidence-based practices and new research regarding substance abuse and behavioral health in adolescents, using literature to guide a project logic model

• Expanded the capacity of local organizations to assess and identify youth needs by conducting screening, brief intervention, referral-to-treatment training and Teen Intervene trainings. During the project period, 35 Teen Intervene facilitators were trained, making prevention services avilable to all 1,200 Rusk County youth

• Expanded awareness of youth behavioral health issues and current statistics through 14 awareness-building workshops for parents, law enforcement, fire and rescue personnel and community groups

• Began exploring opportunities to improve access to care through internet-based screenings and telehealth

• Presented project at various meetings such as the Poverty Matters! Conference and Building the Heart of Successful Schools Conference

• Leveraged approximately $7,166 in funding from other sources

• Leveraged project results into a project proposal that receieved an additional Advancing a Healthier Wisconsin Endowment award of $250,000 to mobilize local youth to reduce behavioral health and AODA issues in Rusk County

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