Youngstown program lauded on national level

A program affiliated with a Youngstown organization dedicated to preventing drug and alcohol abuse among youths recently was honored in the Washington, D.C., area.

The Coalition for Health Promotion, a project of the Youngstown Urban Minority Alcoholism and Drug Abuse Outreach Program, was one of 112 community coalitions hailed during a graduation ceremony at the Community Anti-Drug Coalitions of America (CADCA) National Leadership Forum.

The coalitions received a graduation certificate for completing CADCA’s National Coalition Academy, a rigorous training program designed to increase the effectiveness of community drug-prevention leaders.

“We are so proud of our coalition for investing the time and resources to take advantage of the best community coalition training in the world,” said Takiyah Anderson, local project director for YUMADAOP and Drug-Free Communities program director. “To graduate from this yearlong intensive course is no small feat, and Coalition for Health Promotion is more prepared today to be an effective, sustainable coalition because of this training.”

She added the CHP is looking forward to applying “our knowledge and strategies to ensure the youth in our community live drug free.”

The coalition recently provided training in the best-practices model prevention Creating Lasting Family Connections to area professionals in partnership with the Ohio Department of Mental Health and Addiction Services, according to a news release.

Upcoming key initiatives will involve increasing prevention education within local schools, providing support of curriculum and drug-free alternative activities and increasing drug-free park signage.

The coalition, made up of a group of community members, will continue to inform and educate parents and caregivers on the dangers of youth drug and alcohol usage, social host laws and curfew violation consequences.

CADCA’s National Coalition Academy is a comprehensive, yearlong training program developed by CADCA’s National Coalition Institute.

CADCA’s mission is to strengthen the capacity of community coalitions to create and maintain safe, healthy and drug-free communities globally, according to a news release.

The National Coalition Academy incorporates three weeklong classroom sessions, a web-based distance-learning component, an online workstation where participants network and share planning products and free ongoing coalition development technical assistance.

To graduate, coalitions must complete a rigorous curriculum. They must participate in all components of the NCA and complete five essential planning products that serve as the foundation of their comprehensive plan for community change.

CADCA’s National Leadership Forum is a four-day event packed with opportunities to learn the latest strategies to address substance abuse and hear from nationally known prevention experts, federal administrators, and policy makers.

The forum brings together about 3,000 attendees representing coalitions from all regions of the country and internationally. It is the largest training event for the prevention field.

The CHP’s mission is to prevent and reduce youth substance use and abuse of alcohol, tobacco, and other drugs by facilitating the delivery of multiple systematic prevention strategies as a means of empowering them to live healthy, victorious lives free from illness and addictions.

YUMADAOP’s mission, according to its website, is “to provide culturally and gender-appropriate violence, alcohol, tobacco and other drug prevention and offender re-entry services to residents of Mahoning County.”

It has received a received a $175,210 grant from the Ohio Department of Mental Health and Addiction Services to implement the Start Talking Program for youth who attend Youngstown schools in middle-school grades five to eight, parents, and the community, educating them about the dangers of using and abusing drugs and alcohol. A total of 93 children and more than 400 parents are being served.

The agency, located on Florencedale Avenue on the North Side, has been serving area youth since 1987. The service locations are Kirkmere Elementary (fifth- and sixth-graders), Southside Academy (fifth- through eighth-graders), Youngstown Community School (fifth- and sixth-graders) and Liberty High School (eighth-graders).

Darryl G. Alexander Sr. is executive director and has worked for the agency since 1988. Ilene Dixon is program director.

Ernie Brown Jr., a regional editor at The Vindicator, writes a monthly minority-affairs column. Contact him at