Fighting Back Santa Maria Valley was awarded years 6-10 of the Drug Free Community Grant to prevent and reduce alcohol and marijuana use among youth. The project year began on September 30, 2015 and ends on September 29, 2016.
As part of our 12-month action plan, we hosted Free 4 the Weekend. Approximately 1,400 junior high students in SMBSD, OUSD, and GUSD pledged to be drug, alcohol, and violence free and approximately 1,000 students attended the event. This event was a great kickoff event into Red Ribbon week. During Red Ribbon week, we collaborated with Santa Maria Youth and Family Center and the schools to implement activities at the Junior High Schools to raise awareness and education about the dangers of substance use.
In collaboration with the SM Police Department and Alcohol Beverage Control, we have conducted the Minor Decoy operation at twelve stores in Santa Maria using two FBSMV youth group members, which resulted in one citation at BevMo. In previous decoy operations, this store passed the compliance checks, however this exhibits that decoy operations need to be consistent to ensure that stores remain in compliance. We hosted the Licensee Education on Alcohol and Drugs (LEAD) Training where 23 local alcohol licensees received up-to-date information on laws and liabilities regarding sales to minors.
Tobacco Use Prevention Education (TUPE)
Fighting Back Santa Maria Valley is committed to stopping tobacco use in Santa Maria Valley. The Santa Barbara County Department of Public Health’s Community Health Status Report of 2014 documents that the smoking rate in Santa Barbara County is 12%. Since most smokers begin smoking while teens, this rate is an alarming statistic. As the Tobacco Use Prevention Education – TUPE Coordinatorfor Santa Barbara County, Fighting Back Santa Maria Valley assists the 20 school districts and charter schools in developing capacity and building sustainability into their existing TUPE programs and activities.
Fighting Back meets with TUPE school district coordinators biannually for the purpose of providing training of the coordinators’ duties, updated information and resources relating to issues and research in tobacco education, prevention, and intervention, and California Healthy Kids Survey topics. These two, four-hour, meetings are usually held in the Buellton area. FBSMV provides assistance for special campaigns, signage, and youth leadership activities through request or a competitive grant process to reduce smoking and tobacco usage in children. We also assist the school districts with the Tobacco-Free Board Policy implementation and recertify the status every three years.
Fighting Back Santa Maria Valley also coordinates the biennial Countywide California Healthy Kids Survey (CHKS) by planning, developing, and administering of the Santa Barbara County custom survey with schools districts, grant evaluators, and other prevention partners. The California Healthy Kids Survey is the largest statewide survey of resiliency, protective factors, and risk behaviors in the nation.
Across California, the CHKS has led to a better understanding of the relationship between students’ health behaviors and academic performance, and is frequently cited by state policymakers and the media as a critical component of school improvement efforts to help guide the development of more effective health, prevention, and youth development programs. It can be easily customized to meet local needs, interests, and standards, and provides a means to confidentially obtain data on student knowledge, attitudes, and perceptions about the topics it covers.
FBSMV, as the TUPE, coordinator builds partnerships and collaborations with county health department tobacco control programs, county alcohol and drug programs, county mental health programs, and other community prevention and intervention initiatives.