Girl with booksFocus on Community, the NCADD Affiliate in Racine, Wisconsin, was a recipient of the 2015 NCADD Prevention & Education Meritorious Award for its "Teen Peer Educator's Program."

The conditions that inspired the Affiliate leadership to address capacity building needs through the Teen Peer Program included the high amounts of substance abuse by youth in the community, the low number of developmental assets the students possess, lack of programming for teenagers and the need for innovative and effective prevention programs that use evidence based methodology.

This innovative program was developed by Focus on Community more than 20 years ago after the staff and Board of Directors found research that demonstrated peer PE-Racine WI - Plaquefacilitation and mentoring were effective in reducing individual, school based, and peer group risk factors for alcohol and other drug abuse.

The objective of the Teen Peer Program (TPP) is to successfully train high school students in order to more effectively reach elementary and middle school students with research based prevention programming, asset development and mentoring. This pairing of peers increases the likelihood that the participants will make better decisions and lead healthier lives free from substance abuse.

The TPP is a unique prevention program which utilizes high school students as Teen Peer Educator's (TPE) who have chosen to live healthy, drug free lifestyles. TPE include both paid and volunteer teens and represent the diverse population of youth in Racine in ethnicity, socioeconomic status, gender and age. Training to become a TPE includes substance abuse awareness, program facilitation and development, public speaking, grant writing and leadership development. Acting as mentors, the TPE are able to reach children from high risk environments with state of the art prevention programs and activities. The youth the TPE serve formulate values that can be carried on well into adulthood.

The TPE program at Focus has been serving Racine for 21 years and has employed over 300 high school students.

The program has not only provided developmental opportunities in leadership and inter-personal skill development for these students, but it has also continued to grow and generate interest in more teens who want to make a difference in our community. The Affiliate has extended a waiting list for teens wishing to be in the program. Its goal is to provide this opportunity to as many teens as possible, which will in turn make the community a smarter, safer and better place to live.

The program has continued to develop with the advancements in technology, social media and education. Focus on Recovery strives to offer innovative services and is able to maximize these efforts through the Teen Peer Program. Each year TPE make a difference in the community through prevention programs that enable them to reach as many youth as possible – allowing for the biggest impact.

The Teen Peer Program model would work well in many non-profits regardless of their mission. It could be expanded to other organizations, thereby inspiring the youth-driven change that has become synonymous with The Teen Peer Program and Focus on Recovery.

For more information:
Jason Meekma
Executive Director
Focus on Community, Inc.
1220 Mound Avenue, Suite 307
Racine, WI 53404
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