ALAMOSA — Increasing prevention while decreasing risk.
These terms might well describe the mission of the Alamosa Prevention Coalition. During a presentation to the Alamosa Rotary Club, Anne-Marie DeHerrera, Nancy Molina, and Ani Rinchung showcased some highlights of the work of the Alamosa Cares initiative.
Alamosa Cares is the San Luis Valley branch of the coalition known as Communities That Care or CTC. The CTC program was founded at the University of Washington and has been in place for 30 years. The project now has localized prevention groups worldwide.
The Alamosa Coalition uses a concept known as “upstream prevention.” The idea is that the source of the problem needs to be addressed; otherwise it will continue to occur. Thus, the goal is to deal with the root causes and factors that can put local youth at risk for substance abuse, suicide and other issues. The hope is to prevent these behaviors before they even start.
The group also shared data that showed promising outcomes. In areas that have a CTC initiative, youth are 25 percent less likely to engage in delinquent behavior, 32 percent less likely to use alcohol, and 33 percent less likely to use cigarettes. DeHerrera also pointed out that positive reinforcement could also be a powerful tool to help children and youth do the right thing.
The Alamosa Cares Coalition plans to continue their work of prevention. They will be hosting a forum led by Alamosa High School Counselor Tom Hays on March 2 called Youth Mental Health First Aid. The event will outline “a 5-step action plan for how to help young people in both crisis and non-crisis situations.”