Tamaqua Raiders PROMISE Project
The PROMISE Project is an opioid misuse community prevention project in Tamaqua, PA funded by the Pennsylvania Commission on Crime and Delinquency (PCCD), the Pennsylvania Department of Drug & Alcohol Programs (DDAP), and the Pennsylvania Department of Education (PDE). With PROMISE standing for Preventing Raiders Opioid Misuse in a Safe Environment, their immediate goal is to provide support to middle school students and families within the Tamaqua community in order to prevent the onset of substance misuse. The long term goal is to prevent opioid misuse later in life by providing youth with the skills and knowledge to avoid them beginning to use any substances and to seek pro-social opportunities instead.
There are four main components to the PROMISE Project. These include the Strengthening Families Program: For Parents and Youth 10-14 (SFP), Botvin’s Life Skills Training (LST), Communities that Care’s Social Development Strategy (SDS), and a Prevention Messaging Campaign. Both an LST and SFP training were held at the Tamaqua Area Middle School where several teachers and community members as well as the project coordinators were trained to facilitate the programs. In addition, the project coordinators, Kate Spofford and Danny Blugis, along with Caitlin Miller from the Tamaqua Area School District, attended an SDS training in State College in the Fall to become SDS facilitators. Big plans surrounding the implementation of SDS and the Prevention Messaging Campaign within the community in 2020 are in the works, but the project’s biggest successes this year have been through LST and SFP.
The Botvin’s Life Skills Training program is a school-based curriculum that is designed to provide adolescents and young teens with the confidence and skills necessary to handle challenging situations. It teaches students the necessary skills to resist peer pressures to smoke, drink, and use drugs. It helps students to develop a greater self-esteem and self-confidence, and enables students to effectively cope with anxiety.
Level 1 of LST is currently being implemented within the 6th grade class of the Tamaqua Area Middle School by the Health and Physical Education teachers, Jay Daubert and Lynn Deiter, during the Health class rotation. During 2019, they were able to complete two full cycles of LST reaching 71 students in total and will be completing their third cycle in early 2020. There are a total of six cycles during the school year and they are on track to meet the goal of reaching 180 students by the end of the school year. Next year, Level 2 of LST will be added to the 7th grade health curriculum and Level 3 will be added to the 8th grade curriculum during the following year.
The Strengthening Families Program: For Parents and Youth 10-14 is an essential component in the PROMISE Project’s efforts to prevent substance misuse in Tamaqua’s youth. The program aims to reduce substance use and behavior problems during adolescence through improved skills in nurturing and child management by parents and improved interpersonal and personal competencies among youth. The topics include developing appropriate rules, encouraging good behavior, using consequences, building bridges, dealing with peer pressure, and protecting against substance misuse.
Moving forward, PROMISE plans to hold several Social Development Strategy trainings within the Tamaqua community. This will consist of training and educating the community at large on the SDS public health model. The model is an evidenced based framework which organizes protective factors into a simple strategy for action to promote positive youth development. It aims to recognize that positive social orientation, resiliency, and intellect can facilitate bonding and can be nurtured by communities and adults. The first SDS training will be delivered to the Tamaqua Area School District teachers and staff.
PROMISE will also be putting much of their focus into their prevention messaging campaign collaborating with community partners and state initiatives. Their messaging goals are to 1) Raise Awareness of Prevention Efforts Being Made in the Community (both PROMISE and others) 2) Recruitment for SFP (and SDS at a later time, may not need to recruit immediately if done in schools) 3) Raise Awareness of the Dangers of Substance Use in Youth and Steps to Prevent It by utilizing PAstart.org messaging 4) Change the Mindset of the Community through Stigma presentations created by the Schuylkill Opiate Task Force and through positive messaging.
As part of this project, information is being gathered to document the effectiveness of these above-named project components. PROMISE is collecting pre- and post-test information on youth knowledge, attitudes, and behaviors around substance use, family, school, and community-level protective factors. They will also be analyzing information on the quality of program delivery and program reach. The community’s school district-level PAYS data will be used to examine the effectiveness of this multi-level prevention project.
We hope to see the popularity of the PROMISE Project and their programs/initiatives continue to grow and to
reach as many Tamaqua residents as possible. Creating a safe place for Tamaqua’s youth and preventing substance abuse is the number one priority. If you would like learn more about the project please visit their Facebook page fb.me/raiders.promise.project and be sure to follow them on Instagram at raiders.promise.project.