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BAHCC implores Reed-Custer schools

The problems related to teenage drug and alcohol use and abuse is not limited to big city kids. For the past several years, members of the Braidwood Area Healthy Community Coalition (BAHCC) have been working to educate both children and their parents on the dangers of illegal drugs and drinking, and providing resources for how families can deal with the issues that are prevalent in most towns, including Braidwood. And now the coalition is looking to spread awareness into the community by stepping into the classrooms to instruct the youth about alcohol and drug abuse at both the middle and high schools in district 255u.

After establishing a direct mission and a vision, which was finalized at the group’s August monthly meeting, the BAHCC is also required to choose, from a state provided list of three, a community engagement campaign to further the growth of the coalition into the a compliance of its received state grant.

The active organization received a boost last August from the Illinois Department of Human Services Division of Community Health and Prevention.  Chestnut Health Systems, a member organization of the BAHCC, was awarded $75,000 in the form of a state grant to conduct community assessment and planning around youth substance abuse, especially underage drinking, in the Braidwood Area. 

The funds are a subgrant of the Strategic Prevention Framework (SPF) program, developed by the Substance Abuse and Mental
Health Services Administration. SPF is a structured planning process that can be used with communities to help them identify their most pressing substance abuse issues and guide them to implement proven strategies that are tailored to local conditions.

In order to maintain compliance of the state awarded grant, the BAHCC has chosen the state’s  Youth Prevention Education -project TND (Towards No Drug Abuse) and propositioned the principals from both of Reed-Custer’s middle and high schools last week regarding the program.

The state of Illinois conducted a risk for addiction from substance abuse test to portray the relevance of the rising underage drinking in the southern Will County area, therefore proving the necessity of the TND project.

According to the CRAFT (a mnemonic acronym of first letters of key wordsof the tests six questions) screening test, one quarter (25 percent) of 10th graders and nearly half (43 percent) of 12th graders, are at risk for alcohol and other drug disorders, and indicated a need for a further substance abuse assessment. (Answered yes to two or more questions)

The purpose of the TND is to delay the onset of alcohol use, reduce use among youths who have already tried it and limit the number of
alcohol-related problems experienced by young drinkers.

The state project requires there to be 12 classroom-based sessions, each of which is 40-50 minutes in length and was designed for implementation over a four-week period.

The coalition is willing to see if either the health teachers at the two schools can instruct the course or possibly provide the schools with an instructor for guidance or even instruction by a trained professional.

“I would love to see this in the high school, but I will have to speak with them [teachers] and see how they would feel about teaching it, but also we will have to see about presenting this to the school board district as well,” RCHS principal, Tim Ricketts said.

Beyond the decision of who will be instructing the project to the students in the classroom, the coalition and school officials will first
have to come to terms on how to allow for the projects intrusion into the already packed student’s school day. Coming up with an extra three-hours within the already allotted for curriculum may prove to be harder than the coalition initially perceived, some members openly expressed at the September monthly meeting.

“I’m not sure where something like this [TND project] can fit into a students schedule at the high school, maybe we might be able to do something with homeroom time, but still I don’t know,” pondered Ricketts.

Pam Surprenant, principal of RCMS, seemed a bit more confident for the allotment of time needed for the project at the middle school.  “I think maybe if we look at our comet time and how we use that,  that may be the way to fit it [TND project] in,” Surprenant suggested.

However the integration of the project makes its way into the classrooms, the coalition is confident and hopeful that by targeting both the pre-teen and teenage age brackets, that it may help   boost the growth and awareness of its mission- “Working with our neighbors to ensure a promising tomorrow, by providing opportunities that promote healthy life choices today.

The BAHCC was formed in 2008 to create a safe and drug-free environment in the Braidwood area. Its primary goals are to reduce youth substance abuse and increase family communication and involvement.

The BAHCC meets the second Monday of each month at 4:30 p.m. at the Braidwood Fire Protection Department. Information can be found by calling 815-458-6494, e-mailing the BAHCC at, or on Facebook by searching under Braidwood Area Healthy Community Coalition.