Guest Post by Jennifer Sellner
Team: Substance Abuse Prevention Goal: Establish a cultural norm of responsible, legal substance use Serve on a coalition, hand out campaign materials, help host trainings and events, promote local policy changes
As one of the original founders of the Delaware Drug Abuse Coalition (DDAC), Jennifer Sellner, has been volunteering with the group for approximately 13 years. DDAC, made up of locals from all backgrounds and ages, identifies concerns, trends, and needs in their area. They fulfill community needs using media, policy changes, and education. Volunteer involvement ranges from attending monthly meetings, sharing opinions, handing out campaign materials, to spearheading community initiatives.
I’ve learned to not let negative issues deter me from trying to make a difference. If I can come together with others (DDAC) on behalf of my children and the families of the area that I work with every day, then we can make a positive impact on our community. It’s very uplifting to work as a team with a common purpose: to ensure a positive and safe environment for children, families, and our community as a whole.
We started the coalition because people were becoming concerned about social issues in the county like substance abuse among teens and the increase in methamphetamine use among youth and adults. Seeing firsthand the number of children and families being affected by substance abuse, I quickly became concerned. Data rapidly showed that substance usage was increasing in the county, more children were being removed from their home for safety concerns, and juvenile delinquency was rising. We thought that if more of us could come together, then the safer and healthier we could make our communities. And the coalition approach works. This year DDAC used their time, energy, and expertise to get the new county social host ordinance passed. This law will reduce underage drinking by holding adults more responsible for knowing, hosting, and providing space or alcohol for minors to drink. Lately, we have been gathering data for coalition funding to educate about and prevent substance abuse. Funding will help sustain our efforts to meet local needs through things like hosting events for youth and parents, giving educational presentations, supporting local law enforcement initiatives, and promoting responsible substance use campaigns. I volunteer on the coalition because living and raising my children in a safe, supportive, and healthy environment is important to me. It allows me to be actively involved in creating social norm changes. Planting seeds of change and watching it foster and grow is a neat thing. Across the country substance abuse numbers are increasing. Delaware County specifically has been targeted as an area of concern. I’m personally not going to settle for that. I’m going to do what I can to impact positive change within the county. I challenge everyone to do the same. It’s your home. It’s your community.