City of Canton Awarded for Opiate Prevention Among Youth

January 2, 2018

Collaboration with StarkMHAR, criminal justice and school district tackling youth opiate prevention and education, to be presented national award on January 26

Canton, Ohio (December 28, 2017) - The National Community Development Association (NCDA) will be presenting the City of Canton Community Development Department on of only five national Audrey Nelson Awards for best community practices on Friday, January 26, 2018 in Washington, DC.  The City's work in opiate prevention and education among youth is a collaboration of Stark County Mental Health & Addiction Recovery (StarkMHAR), the City and Stark County Common Pleas Court's Stop Heroin From Killing committee.

"We are so pleased NCDA is recognizing the efforts of the City to protect our youth and provide education on the real dangers of prescription abuse and misuse," said Canton Mayor Thomas Bernabei.

Earlier this year, the organizations partnered as a response to the area's ongoing heroin epidemic to offer opiate prevention and education to city youth.  The City awarded StarkMHAR $65,000 of federal Community Development Block Grant funds.  The funds were used to raise awareness during the summer through a city-wide campaign promoting prevention strategies, awareness of available services, and an opioid prevention curriculum training offered to Canton City School District educators to utilize SAFE HOMe.  It is a universal opiate prevention curriculum prepared by StarkMHAR for grades 5, 8 and 10.  The Canton City Police Department offered neighborhood and school-based events at several city locations throughout the summer, in addition to a back to school event.

"The strategies used in this innovative and collaborative program help educate city residents about the unpredictable nature of addiction and provide youth and families with resources for help.  We are delighted NCDA chose Canton as a best-practice community," said Director Rollin Seward, City of Canton Department of Development.

"Staff at StarkMHAR are committed to engaging the public to prevent opiate use and empower community members to help save lives by recognizing and responding to warning signs," said John Aller, executive director of Stark County Mental Health & Addiction Recovery.  "We continue to partner with area officials and organizations to tackle this terrible opiate epidemic."

The NCDA Audrey Nelson Award, granted on an annual basis, is named for the first NCDA Deputy Executive Secretary.  Before her death, Nelson demonstrated an intense commitment to her neighborhood and a drive to serve low income people.  NCDA is dedicated to making communities better places to live and work, particularly for low and moderate income people in Nelson's honor.

Overdose fatalities in Stark County and the surrounding region have increased at an alarming rate.  Since 2003 the number of unintentional drug overdose deaths in Stark County has risen from 10 to 105 in 2016, an increase of more than 950%.  Overdose deaths in 2017 are trending down from 2016.  Initiatives such as the City of Canton partnership may be helping decrease these numbers.


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