Prevention Week Highlights Partnership

National Prevention Week Spotlights Partnership Between Weakley County Schools and the Weakley County Prevention Coalition
Posted on 05/06/2024
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As the nation gears up to observe National Prevention Week from May 12-18, the collaborative efforts between the Weakley County Prevention Coalition (WCPC) and Weakley County Schools are in the spotlight. This dynamic collaboration isn't just about raising awareness; it's about taking action to prevent substance use and promote positive mental health in our community.

Under the visionary leadership of Director Courtney Echols, the WCPC is leading the charge with innovative programs and initiatives designed to empower students and families to make healthy choices. From interactive workshops to community events, WCPC is on a mission to educate, engage, and inspire.

Echols believes in the ‘better together’ approach between the coalition and schools.

“The WCPC mission is to design and set strategies in place that prevents and reduces substance abuse, thereby enhancing the lives of youth and adults in Weakley County. We know that education is the first line of defense against substance abuse. By helping schools establish healthy social norms, and by offering individualized prevention strategies, the impact can be positive, powerful, and long lasting,” Echols explained.

Prevention Coalition staff poses together in navy coalition tshirts

Services offered by the coalition are extensive and far reaching. Their arsenal of initiatives includes interactive workshops, educational programs, and community events designed to engage students, families, and community members in meaningful conversations about substance use and mental health. Their services span various substances, such as educating on prescription drug safety, raising awareness about the risks associated with tobacco and vaping, and highlighting the dangers of alcohol misuse. Prom and graduation safety awareness events, alcohol education presentations, guest speakers, and mock crash simulations are organized annually by the coalition. They also provide in-service training on overdose prevention, Narcan, and Naloxone procedures. Additionally, Family Engagement and Resource Nights help facilitate discussions between parents and guardians about the prevalence of substance use.

Coalition staff smiles with five smiling Greenfield School students

“Knowledge is power in the fight against substance abuse,” said Echols, “and WCPC initiatives aim to empower students and families to make informed choices.”

Of all the services offered, the youth coalition stands out for its exceptional impact on our schools and communities. Serving as catalysts for positive change and empowerment among students, youth coalitions provide a platform for young people to voice their concerns and ideas while equipping them with skills and resources to become leaders among their peers. Middle and High School students with youth coalitions have countless opportunities to volunteer to help build awareness about preventing substance use. They attend the Day on the Hill event where they engage with representatives and lawmakers on advocating for policies and initiatives that address substance abuse and promote increased access to support services and the investment in prevention efforts. Students participate in a school health fair showcase and have the opportunity to attend camps and conferences. Through initiatives such as leadership trainings, community service projects, and peer education programs, youth coalitions foster a culture of responsibility, resilience, and inclusivity within our schools. By actively engaging students in substance abuse prevention efforts and promoting healthy behaviors, these coalitions contribute to a safer, more supportive learning environment for all.

According to Echols, students show that they want to be a part of meaningful contribution.

“Children want to be heard and valued, and that becomes even more discernable once they reach middle school. Each student is heard and valued as an active participant in our coalition's mission. By embracing their perspectives and ideas, we hope to empower them to play a vital role in shaping our efforts to combat substance abuse and promote community well-being,” Echols said.

Greenfield student participate in activity with coalition staff

The coalition's staff comprises dedicated individuals committed to combating substance abuse and promoting community well-being. Led by Director Courtney Echols, the team includes Sydney Parimore, Campus Engagement Coordinator, who provides support to students in higher education and facilitates positive change on campus. Baylee Arnott serves as the Drug Endangered Child Coordinator, working to break generational cycles of substance misuse and improve community health. Melesa Lassiter and Jennifer Watkins are Regional Overdose Prevention Specialists, tirelessly raising awareness and providing education to various stakeholders to combat the substance abuse epidemic. Together, the staff ensures that the coalition remains a well-known and effective resource in reducing substance misuse and abuse among youth and young adults in the county.

"Our partnership with WCPC is a secret weapon in our fight against substance abuse," says David Lewellen, Principal of Dresden Middle School. "Their programs give our students the tools they need to navigate life's challenges and stay on the right path."


John Lifsey, Principal of Martin Middle School, agrees. "WCPC is about prevention, but it’s also about fostering a culture of empowerment within our school. By providing invaluable resources and support, they're instilling a sense of confidence in our students, helping them to make informed choices and become leaders in their own lives."

Coordinated School Health Director Bethany Allen Safe and Supportive Schools Coordinator Lorna Benson are instrumental in supporting the initiatives between the coalitions and the school district.

“We are very thankful for the partnership with WCPC. Peer-to-peer education carries such a positive impact as a result of the work of the youth coalitions in our schools. Students are empowered to stay on track and educate each other on good choices. It’s an invaluable program,” said Allen. 

Assistant Director of Schools Betsi Foster acknowledged the significance of the partnership between Weakley County Schools and WCPC.

"This collaboration is more than just a partnership - it's a lifeline for our community," says Foster. "By working together, we can create a safer, healthier environment for our students to thrive. We appreciate the efforts of the WCPC in our schools,” said Foster.

National Prevention Week is a public education platform that showcases the efforts of communities and organizations across the country to prevent substance use and promote positive mental health.

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