West Seattle is a conglomeration of neighborhoods in Seattle, Washington. Many students in this area are served by Seattle Public Schools (SPS), an urban district encompassing the entire City of Seattle, King County with a diverse student population in grades Pre-K through Grade 12. Seattle and other parts of King County, like many parts of the country, has experienced a significant increase in overdose deaths among young people due to fentanyl-laced drugs and powders. A troubling fact is that 18 local youth died of fatal overdose in 2020. In early 2021, one West Seattle student died of overdose. In addition to these alarming trends among youth, West Seattle High School also reports higher than state average for alcohol use, including binge drinking and drinking alcohol at the same time they were using marijuana. These concerns led stakeholders in the West Seattle region to come together and form a coalition. To build communities that foster a safe environment for youth to learn, grow, and thrive, many representatives from West Seattle High School and the larger community have joined the coalition so that it is now composed of diverse stakeholders. Members of the Coalition have been actively collaborating with coalition sectors, members, and partners to identify and address youth substance use problems and create sustainable community-level change. Having recently named themselves the Westside HEY (Healthy Empowered Youth) Coalition, their mission is to promote a healthy and safe community through collaboration, education, and empowerment so that Westside youth can thrive. With this grant, the Westside HEY Coalition plans to build a bridge of education and prevention from middle to high school. They envision to implement comprehensive education, intervention, peer-led programming, enhance community stakeholder and parent involvement which would help prevent and reduce substance use among youth and save lives. The Coalition will primarily address
youth use of opioids and alcohol, while implementing programs that have been shown to reduce youth substance use overall.