When the teen years hit, many young people struggle to deal with life’s challenges in a positive way. The “I Am Enough Hancock County” program is trying to reach out to those teens in our county who may be struggling.
Funded by United Way and Hancock County Alcohol Drug Addiction and Mental Health Services (ADAMHS), the I Am Enough Hancock County program was implemented in the fall of 2014. According to Zach Thomas, ADAMHS Director of Wellness and Education, the program is an extension of a county campaign that was only geared toward 18-25 year-olds. The I Am Enough Hancock County program recently joined efforts with the Family Resource Center to deliver a universal environmental prevention program that includes the younger population in the community.
Positive, empowered choices
The program’s message concentrates on teaching youth to make positive choices, empowering individuals to encourage each other, and to strengthen the understanding that each individual is important enough to stand against substance abuse.
Thomas said that a group of 12 county high school students were selected to serve on its Youth Advisory Board. The students were chosen by recommendation or through their participation in the group H.A.P.P.Y. (Hancock Addiction Prevention Program for Youth). The adult advisor for the group is Family Resource Center Prevention Educator Michele Branham.
Branham said her role is to guide the advisory board by providing them with educational and research tools. The board to decides how to communicate that message to fellow students.
“Research has proven that peer prevention programs are highly effective,” Branham said. “Youth respond better to other youth where they feel they are being talked to and not talked at.”
The group meets twice a month and has taken part in high school rallies and “Just Say No” gatherings and participated in the Halloween Parade. Branham said the group is now in the process of planning Spring activities. Her hope is that the program will be utilized in all county schools. Findlay High School already has plans to use its message as a way to help mentor new freshmen.
Thomas said that prevention programs such as I Am Enough Hancock County can be vital help for the youth in the community.
“There are risk factors and protective factors in the lives of all youth and young adults which can affect their decisions and life choices,” Thomas said. “The more protective factors that surround youth and young adults, the greater the chance they have to create a positive life for themselves. It is our responsibility as a community to provide as many protective factors as possible.”
See the I Am Enough Hancock County Project at iamenoughproject.org.