In October of 2019, The Vernon ROCKS Coalition was awarded a $1.5 million federal grant from the Substance and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) for the next five years.
This created the expansion of Vernon ROCKS, launching the new Manchester Vernon Prevention Partnership (MVPP). In partnership with the Change Collaborative of Manchester, MVPP will work to reduce underage drinking and increase prevention program work in the towns of Vernon and Manchester.
This expansion will help bring Vernon ROCKS and the Change Collaborative’s prevention efforts into schools. MVPP will implement a life-skills curriculum for high schoolers and a transition program for 8th graders to combat social and underage drinking issues that can occur in high school. MVPP will also create media campaigns targeting teens and parents to help educate them about underage drinking.
“This new initiative will amplify our substance abuse prevention efforts and create stronger communities by increasing protective factors and reducing risks for youth,” said Kaitlin Carafa, MVPP project director at The Village. “Our goal is to help even more young people and families thrive and partnering with the Change Collaborative allows us to do just that.”
MVPP formed an Advisory Board focused on increasing program capacity and substance abuse prevention efforts. In the coming years, the Board will expand to include new member sectors that tackle housing, employment and financial stability. The group will also develop a Youth Advisory Board modeled after the Vernon ROCKS Real Talk youth initiative and the Change Coalition’s FACTS group to engage local youth leaders.
“We’re looking forward to raising awareness about substance abuse among youth, while educating parents about the issues teens are facing,” said Sheridan Douglass, project program coordinator at Manchester Youth Service Bureau.
Through this initiative, The Village will be partnering with the Manchester and Vernon Youth Service Bureaus, Manchester and Vernon Police Departments, and Manchester and Rockville High Schools to coordinate and execute programming.
About the Change Collaborative: The Change Collaborative of Manchester works to build a vibrant, safe and healthy community for youth through substance prevention. The organization runs two groups that meet regularly to work on grassroots initiatives to engage youth and the community at large to raise awareness of alcohol and drug abuse. Their youth group, FACTS, is comprised of local teens who plan initiatives geared towards raising awareness of substance abuse among their peers.