La Plata County is blessed with a wide array of spectacular outdoor adventure activities. From mountain biking to river rafting to fishing and hunting, La Plata County is a nature lovers paradise.
However, what has made this area so special is its people. In the last year, it has been a great pleasure to delve into the county and establish working partnerships for La Plata County 4-H with other community-driven organizations. Today, I would like to highlight the partnership we have with San Juan Basin Health Department and its Celebrating Community Norms project.
Celebrating Community Norms is a project of the Lasso Tobacco Coalition made possible through a five-year grant from the Colorado Division of Behavioral Health. This community development project collaborates through a task force team that promotes the overall mission of improving the health of youths in our county. The task force is a unique blend of governmental and nongovernmental organizations working together for the betterment of our community. In addition, it is a part of a larger Four Corners Positive Community Norms project that actively looks to promote positive youth development in the region and in our surrounding tribal communities.
Celebrating Community Norms has an action-oriented strategic plan that is improving youths lives through three primary approaches.
The first is by developing assets for youths and youth organizations that research shows increases healthy behavior. By developing assets, youths are equipped with the knowledge of good qualities and positive experiences that can help them make good choices in life. Task force member Lauren Patterson has spearheaded this approach through training organizations on the positive outcomes of having developmental assets. She and her youth co-facilitator, Irene Perez, have recently completed an assets training for the Durango Parks and Recreation summer staff, and we look forward to a 4-H training for our youth and adult leaders this fall.
The next approach is science-based. It looks to correct the misperceptions and attitudes facing our youths today to promote positive community norms. For instance, many times we dwell on the small percentage of youths that are engaging in negative behaviors like substance abuse. This can create a great misperception that can be ultimately damaging to youth decision-making. Celebrating Community Norms would like to celebrate the fact the majority of our youths are smart, active and healthy young adults making wise decisions and to encourage other youths to do the same. This approach has been extremely helpful in my messaging to 4-H youths and keeping positive in my personal life.
The last primary approach is by supporting parent education and advancing policies designed to reduce youths use of alcohol, tobacco and other drugs. Celebrating Community Norms, in collaboration with Healthy Lifestyle La Plata, has diligently worked on this approach. It has encouraged positive guidelines for special events coordinators, staff and volunteers to promote supportive environments that can decrease exposure to negative and unhealthy behaviors at area events.
Celebrating Community Norms has seen great success in its initial year. It is currently embarking on a media campaign of newspaper advertisements, posters, bookmarks, radio spots and much more to help our community realize its strengths and assist our youths and families in staying positive and healthy.
La Plata County 4-H would like to thank Roseann Kutzleb, Nicole Schnee, Teal Stetson-Lee, Char Day and all the other members of Celebrating Community Norms for inviting and engaging 4-H into the task force and helping our organization strive. We look forward to future positive collaborations.
email@example.com or 382-6463. Greg Felsen is La Plata County 4-H youth development agent.