Casco Bay CAN Earns Nationwide Recognition
Cumberland County sponsored program works to reduce underage drinking, drug use
NEW GLOUCESTER -- Casco Bay CAN has earned national recognition for their work to reduce substance use in young people.
Casco Bay Create Awareness Now (CAN) is a Coalition of members representing all 12 Drug-Free Community sectors: businesses, media, schools, youth-serving organizations, law enforcement, parents, youth, religious and fraternal organizations, civic and volunteer groups, healthcare professionals, state and local government, and other organizations involved in reducing youth substance use. The coalition serves Cumberland, Falmouth, Freeport, Gray, New Gloucester, North Yarmouth, Yarmouth and Pownal.
Community Anti-Drug Coalitions of America (CADCA) recognized Casco Bay CAN in October as one of the top ten case studies nationwide for successful strategies to reduce substance use in young people.
“Casco Bay CAN has become a leading resource for community organizations and agencies that look to us for guidance, training, and materials to support their youth substance use prevention efforts,” said Beth Blakeman-Pohl, Casco Bay CAN’s Program Director. “We work to educate and empower adults that influence youth, and they have consistently stepped up to participate. Our Coalition is so proud to receive this recognition.”
The Casco Bay CAN program engages parents, faith leaders, school staff and law enforcement to conduct programs ranging from education about the dangers of underage drinking and substance use, to peer-to-peer prevention messaging.
Casco Bay CAN also worked with local law enforcement to implement “Project Sticker Shock,” a point-of-sale campaign to bring awareness to state laws and penalties for providing alcohol to minors. In May and December each year, approximately 100 youth volunteers work in collaboration with all five local law enforcement agencies and nearly 20 local retailers to place bright orange awareness stickers on alcohol packs. The project is supported with ad campaigns and social media posts. Local restaurants participate by placing pizza box top stickers with the headline, “Because You Care About Teens, Don’t Provide the Means.” Youth volunteers wear “Project Sticker Shock” t-shirts and receive recognition for their efforts.
CADCA developed case studies from the most recent Drug-Free Communities (DFC) outcome data available. These case studies featured coalitions that documented reductions in youth substance use across all grade levels (middle and high school) and all substances (alcohol, tobacco, marijuana and prescription drugs). These coalitions went through a rigorous training on CADCA’s model of Community Change. They implemented a comprehensive strategy that encompassed CADCA’s 7 Strategies for Community Change. These are: providing information; building skills; providing support; enhancing access/reducing barriers; changing consequences (incentives/disincentives); changing physical design; and modifying and changing policies.
CADCA’s Public Policy Team interviewed coalition leaders to see what they had done across the seven strategies. “We chose the best-of-the-best coalitions for our case studies,” said Chris Doarn, Public Policy Manager for CADCA. “Members of Casco Bay CAN should feel a tremendous sense of honor and pride in their coalition’s selection as a case study. CADCA thanks them for their outstanding work.”
Casco Bay’s outcome data will be shared with members of Congress, both in Maine and in other states.
“While we are proud of the impact we have had in our communities over the past decade, there is still much more to do to empower youth to make healthy choices,” said Blakeman-Pohl. “Today’s youth face new circumstances that can lead to self-medicating, including increased stress and anxiety, which has been exacerbated by COVID-19. Over the next decade, we will build upon our strong network to increase our impact, build resiliency with youth and families, and address on-going and emerging challenges in order to continue our work reducing substance use by children and teens.”