Change. Challenge. Growth. These words accurately capture 2014 at GUIDE. This year was full of new projects, growing existing programs and settling into some major transitions. Throughout it all – which included a new baby, two staff departures, including that of our founding Executive Director, a new hire, several job and title changes and some office renovations – our staff continued to be recognized for their professionalism and talents, which explains why we’re often in high demand. Every one of our initiatives continued to make a difference in 2014, and we are pleased to share our accomplishments with you.
Through our Alcohol Prevention Project (APP) funded by the Department of Behavioral Health and Developmental Disabilities, we continued to work through the Strategic Prevention Framework on our goal to reduce access to alcohol and binge drinking by 9- to 20-year-olds. Work included implementation strategies to reduce retail and social availability of alcohol to teens and young adults under 21 years of age. Compliance checks, warning glass cling messages and sharing of current administrative penalties with local officials were used to address commercial access to alcohol. Our focus to reduce social access included raising awareness about consequences for providing alcohol to minors, improving social host liability laws or ordinances, conducting Sticker Shock campaigns and sharing materials from various other campaigns.
The compliance checks were conducted by Gwinnett County Police in unincorporated Gwinnett County. Over 280 retailers were checked and had an overall compliance rate of 84%. Lilburn Police Department and Snellville Police Department also conducted compliance checks in their cities with compliance rates of 90% and 70%, respectively.
Thanks to our collaboration with Gwinnett County Licensing and Revenue Department, we distributed over 600 warning glass clings in five languages (English, Spanish, Korean, Vietnamese and Chinese) to over 70 alcohol retailers. These clings are placed in venues where adults are purchasing alcohol, like gas stations, and explain the consequences for providing alcohol to minors. By visiting stores every other month to check on the warning glass clings and provide more when needed, GUIDE staff have been able to start building relationships with retailers and incorporate their feedback into our strategies.
Another new collaboration was developed between GUIDE and City of Snellville. GUIDE is now providing materials for the City’s Cop Cab program which highlights the need for adults who drink to call a cab rather than choose to drive.
Social availability strategies included two campaigns, Parents Who Host, Lose The Most and Parents Are The Key, highlighting information about the impact of alcohol on the developing, adolescent brain. We also spent time planning and finalizing our plans for a positive social norms campaign in local high schools that will launch in 2015.
GUIDE conducted two Sticker Shock campaigns, one in April in honor of Alcohol Awareness Month and one in December. With help from over 30 youth and adult volunteers, we placed over 3,000 warning stickers, 80 warning glass clings and 6 warning posters at 15 alcohol retail stores in South Gwinnett County.
For the first time in its history, GUIDE was the overall winner for the Red Ribbon Week 2013 Award Competition because of our substance abuse prevention activities in October 2013. This year, we conducted a social media campaign, “Paint Georgia Red,” where we encouraged people from around the state to wear red and post why they choose to be drug free on social media using our hashtag #31daysofred.
GUIDE’s public awareness campaigns continued throughout the year, reaching over 500,000 viewers and providing materials to over 125,000 individuals. GUIDE is also involved in several local and statewide efforts to reduce prescription drug misuse and marijuana use. GUIDE continued to collaborate with the local Drug Free Communities coalition, the Gwinnett Coalition for Health & Human Services, by providing training and taking the lead on several prevention strategies, focusing on underage drinking, marijuana and prescription drugs. As part of its DFC work , GUIDE publishes the popular monthly newsletter Inspired to Make Healthy Choices that is viewed by more than 125,000 individuals and 30,000 households every month.
Youth Leadership and Engagement
GUIDE’s work with youth leaders in Gwinnett and across the state continues to be some of the most successful and rewarding work that we are able to do. Since 1989, Georgia Teen Institute has reached thousands of youth and adults from around the state. The summer of 2014 was no different, as we worked with 43 youth and adult volunteers to implement two weeks of the program at Oxford College. During these two weeks, 326 youth and adults came together while attending keynotes, workshops and other sessions. These members of 43 Youth Action Teams from across Georgia planned and implemented 156 prevention projects and 54 community service projects that involved over 30,000 youth around Georgia.
One of those Youth Action Teams is GUIDE’s Youth Advisory Board (YAB), who had a busy and successful 2014. The YAB’s 2014 projects included the “Fresh Start Town Hall Meeting” at the J.M. Tull YMCA in Lawrenceville, two environmental scans (one relating to underage alcohol sales and one to marijuana and two rounds of Sticker Shock). YAB members also participated in several focus groups to help plan the peer-to-peer social norming campaign about underage drinking that will launch in early 2015, were featured on two episodes of Gwinnett County’s “People Helping People” show and attended multiple community events to share information about the dangers of underage alcohol use. For Red Ribbon Week, the YAB members secured a proclamation from the Gwinnett County Board of Commissioners proclaiming October 25-31 Red Ribbon Week and conducted various campaigns at their own schools, as well as participated in GUIDE’s “Paint Georgia Red” campaign, reaching more than 7,500 students with messages regarding the effects of underage drinking. One of our YAB 2013-14 members, Josselyn Garcia, was selected as DBHDD’s first ever winner of the Youth Ambassador Award and was presented the award during the Georgia School of Addiction Studies in August.
Training and Capacity Building
In 2014, GUIDE continued to be recognized as a leader in professional development and youth leadership training in Georgia.
Throughout the year, we were awarded contracts for training workshops from the Governor’s Office for Children and Families; the Georgia Division of Family and Children Services (DFCS); and several other small non-profits, prevention agencies and others interested in our youth development and prevention work. With these partnerships, we were able to offer 43 professional development training events that reached over 825 adults. Sixteen of our 2014 events were prevention focused. Our eleven youth leadership training events included a leadership series with the Lilburn Middle School Peer Leaders and, in total, reached approximately 250 youth.
We started 2014 with the first ever “Communication Skills for the Prevention Professional” workshop. This course, developed by GUIDE’s Jessica Andrews-Wilson and Mary Langley at Morehouse School of Medicine at the request of the Prevention Credentialing Consortium of Georgia (PCCG), is a required Core Course for anyone applying for credentialing through PCCG. The course in January was offered as a part of week-long prevention training event where all of the PCCG Core Courses were offered. We conducted this series twice in 2014 and, as the only provider to conduct the Core Courses required to apply for prevention credentials in Georgia, GUIDE again played a large role in preparing those applying for prevention credentials.
In March, GUIDE culminated several months of planning as we implemented the first ever Teens R 4 Me Conference through a grant from the Georgia Division of Family and Children Services. During the conference, staff including social services case managers, supervisors and the Georgia Department of Human Services leadership received resources and tools in order to effectively implement DFCS programming throughout the state. Foster care youth also took part in the conference and received information on how to effectively transition out of care. More than 400 participants attended the two days of the conference and received beneficial resources and information.
In October, GUIDE successfully implemented the second annual Georgia Afterschool and Youth Development Conference. This event, funded by the Governor’s Office for Children and Families, the Georgia Division of Family and Children Services, the Georgia Department of Education and the Georgia Department of Public Health, took place in Augusta and reached over 600 afterschool and youth development professionals in attendance for the three day event. Participants received research-based best practices; information, tools and resources framed by Georgia’s Afterschool & Youth Development Quality Standards; and participated in opportunities for networking, collaboration and partnership formation.
These highlights of our work in 2014 are just that – a few of the projects, campaigns and events that GUIDE staff were a part of this year. We couldn’t have celebrated the amazing success of 2014 without our dedicated board members, volunteers, supporters and friends. We look forward to what 2015 holds!
View our 2014 Annual Report.