Strong Families and Powerful Communities
“Like many states, North Carolina faces an opioid crisis that has rapidly intensified in recent years.” The NC Medical Journal goes on to say that addressing this epidemic requires interventions in medicine, law enforcement, and community-based prevention programs. WRAL reported in July of 2018 that Lee County is in the top ten NC counties for opioid overdoses. Since the line between use and abuse is so blurry this crisis does not have easy answers.
To address these identified issues of substance abuse, the N.C. Cooperative Extension Service and N.C. 4-H have taken the lead on initiating community-based prevention tools through youth and family education to provide proactive education. Strong families build up resilient youth who become productive members of our community.
Strong families also have nurturing skills that support children, have effective discipline techniques, are building and supporting healthy future goals, and have coping skills for stress. Young people in strong families will be more resilient, more able to resist peer pressure, and more likely to talk to their caregivers about problems they are facing.
Resilience is defined as the capacity to recover quickly from adversity, especially during childhood. Resilient youth and adults are optimistic, getting through difficult situations without crushed spirits. Psychologists tell us that youth resiliency is formed when caregivers and/or other adults, like teachers and youth leaders, care about them, love them, discipline them consistently, and are interested in their life.
Our community has a number of reactionary resources in place for families and individuals experiencing a multitude of problems. However, powerful communities are built when we can get in front of the problem and learn how to prevent it. Education is the first step in prevention. Teaching Lee County guardians responsible for children ages ten to fourteen about developing a strong family unit is the key to proactively addressing the problem of youth drug abuse.
Are you or do you know a civically minded family who wants to build up a toolbox of skills to resist drug abuse? Lee County is one of ten North Carolina counties adopting a new program called Empowering Youth and Families that focuses on building resilient people, strong families, and powerful communities, equipped and ready to combat the opioid crisis across North Carolina. Families participate in twelve weekly sessions concluding with a meal. Near the end of the weekly sessions, a family retreat is held. Families from different counties join together and design community outreach events to impact each county as a whole. Participation in this program is free to the families. Through funding support provided by NC State University, we at Lee County 4-H have teamed up with the Lee County Department of Social Services and the Lee County Health Department to offer this program locally. For more information about how to participate or support the Empowering Youth & Families Program, please contact Gabrielle Dunlap at 919-775-5624.