The latest Arizona Youth Survey (AYS) shows the Way Out West (WOW) Coalition’s effort in the area of drug and alcohol prevention is paying off. Every two years Arizona youth participate in the Arizona Youth Survey (AYS). The survey of 8th, 10th, and 12th grade youth gathers information needed to monitor underage drinking, drug use, and juvenile delinquency among Arizona youth. In 2016, there were 57,170 students from 249 schools across Arizona who participated in the survey.
“In 2015, the coalition initiated the Get in the Way campaign throughout the city and this has made a substantial impact on our AYS results,” states coalition member and Youth4Youth Executive Director and Larry Tracey.
The AYS data indicates that over the past two years Buckeye has:
• Increased parent-child communication about ATODs (alcohol, tobacco and other drugs) including a 19.5% increase between 2014 and 2016.
• Seen a dramatic drop in Buckeye youth reporting Past 30 Day Use of the most common substances.
• Decreased the numbers for alcohol and marijuana use among teens move from above state averages to significantly lower than the state average.
• Delayed Buckeye youth initiation (first use), much longer than the state average…very few are initiating in elementary school in Buckeye. This is not the case at the state level, where 1 out of 5 are initiating in elementary school.
Since its formation in 2009, the Way Out West (WOW) Coalition has used Buckeye’s AYS data to track effectiveness and assist with the planning of prevention programming in the community.
“We have shown consistent progress toward our goal of giving every kid in Buckeye the opportunity to live a drug-free life. However, the ‘Get in the Way’ campaign has taken our work to a whole new level of prevention and awareness,” states coalition founding member Brian McAchran.
Youth4Youth students in Buckeye schools along with coalition members are having a positive impact promoting the Get in the Way campaign over the past two years. The youth have gained the support of more than 150 businesses, schools, and organizations who help promote the Get in the Way message each year. “It’s great to see so many businesses that want everyone in our city lead a drug-free life. We know we are making a difference but the AYS data proves it,” says Britney Klawuhn a student at Youngker High School.
“This is a concerted effort from many factions within the community,” says Sherry Saylor who is a counselor at Buckeye Elementary School and one of the founding members of the coalition. “We are made up of youth, parents, educators, businesses, law enforcement, civic organizations, nonprofit organizations, volunteers, and city leaders who want to eliminate underage drinking, marijuana use and prescription drug misuse in our youth.”
With Buckeye, Arizona coming in at number seven on the U.S. Census Bureau’s list of the 15 fastest growing large cities in the nation causes Buckeye Vice Mayor and coalition member Craig Heustis has some concern. “There is no time to rest on our results. Staying ahead of growth and remaining proactive is important to our coalition. It is important for us to continue as well as expand our efforts.” Vice Mayor Heustis’ concern is regarding the changes at the state level on how funding is distributed which has eliminated the coalition’s funding. “We have great data that supports our work and a proactive strategic plan for future success. The funding issue has put everything on hold,” Heustis concludes.
The WOW Coalition focuses on creating a safe and unified, drug-free community in the Greater Buckeye Valley. The WOW Coalition meets at noon the second Tuesday of every month (September thru May) at the Buckeye Valley Chamber of Commerce. For more information or to bring Get in the Way to your city or community visit www.WOWcoalition.org