The Cross County Hometown Health Coalition’s (CCHHC) mission is to reduce or prevent the harms of alcohol and drug use through prevention which targets youth in Cross County. The coalition’s “Youth for Health” project will follow the Drug-Free Communities Support Program goals to (1) establish and strengthen community collaboration and (2) reduce substance abuse among youth. CCHHC will achieve these goals by implementing evidence-based strategies with a focus on underage drinking and prescription drug abuse such as:
• enhancing CCHHC infrastructure, increasing partnerships, and the formation of a Youth Coalition for school-based prevention education
• developing a long-term Strategic Plan of strategies for community-level change
• increasing knowledge and skills in the community, especially among parents, regarding youth substance abuse trends
• increasing opportunities for youth participation in drug-free events and activities
• reducing youth access to alcohol and prescription drugs
• working with schools and businesses to provide incentives for youth choosing to live drug-free and using both traditional and social media to promote healthy lifestyles.
Processes and activities of the project will be monitored and evaluated for effectiveness through ongoing data collection to formatively assess the coalition’s progress, determine whether or not stated objectives are met, and measure the impact of the Action Plan activities on the objectives.
This project will serve 3,400 students, grades K-12, in two school districts of the Delta Northeast section of Arkansas annually. Student enrollment of these districts averages 70% white, 26% African American, and 2% Hispanic, with 61% classified as “low income”.
The total Cross County population is approximately 17,000 with almost 8,000 being residents of Wynne, the county seat. Agriculture is the predominate source of income, with rice and soybeans covering the flat farmland. The median household income is below the state average and 23% percent of the county’s children live in poverty. There are 72 churches scattered across this sparsely populated county, yet according to the Arkansas Prevention Needs Assessment (APNA) student survey (2019), 31% of youth surveyed say laws and norms in their community are favorable to drug and alcohol use (compared to 28% statewide). APNA data also show that the county has the 10th highest youth substance abuse rate in the state with alcohol being the most commonly used drug and prescription drug abuse appearing as early as 6th grade.
CrossRidge Community Hospital serves as the host for the CCHHC and will act as its fiscal agent for this project. CrossRidge is very active in the community, providing an array of services, programs, and leadership for local charitable initiatives.
CCHHC formed in 2001 to address and improve overall health of Cross County residents. By 2002, the coalition had begun to focus on harmful substances and, in 2017, determined alcohol and prescription drug abuse were the crucial health crises among local youth. In line with DFC goals, The CCHHC is committed to building relationships, reducing risk factors that affect our youth, and to promoting positive behavior as the new social norm.