1. To attempt to decrease Platte County drug use.
2. To encourage Platte County youth to help their community become healthier.
3. To create awareness of Platte County's rising high risk behaviors.
4. To create a safe, drug free environment for Platte County Youth.
5. To encourage Platte Youth to USE their Voice and become LEADERS.
What is Platte C.A.N.?
Platte C.A.N. (Change Attitudes Now) is a very different anti-drug program that has been started in Platte County, Wyoming. Drug and alcohol use is a huge concern in this county. A survey taken in 2006 shows that in Platte County, 76% of high school seniors had tried drugs and/or alcohol at some point in their life. Rather than focus all attention on the drug users, a program has begun to reward those who make positive choices.
The Platte C.A.N. has begun in our county as a result of a grant through the 21st century CCLC. This same program started in Cody, Wyoming, and has spread throughout the state. The program uses positive peer pressure and accountability to encourage students to remain drug and alcohol free. Dozens of local businesses have agreed to assist in the program by offering special discounts on products and services to C.A.N. members. Platte County students are no longer being asked to simply say "NO" to drugs, they are being encouraged to say "YES" to the C.A.N. HUB, social activities, and community discounts.
By the Students, For the Students
The structure of the C.A.N. program is unique. Platte C.A.N. exists through a 21st Century CCLC Grant and is managed by high school students. The majority of the board of directors and all of the officers are students who have signed up for C.A.N. Two persons working through Peak Wellness, the OWN IT! Director and Manager, work as sponsors, and serve as liasions between the C.A.N. Committee and the administration of the schools. There is also a board of professionals serving on the PC2 Board that oversees OWN IT! and C.A.N. These students (collectively known as the C.A.N. Committee) use the Grant monies to effectively run their group and its goals.
Although Platte C.A.N. is not officially affiliated with the school system in any way, the students essentially shape the program. Many of the students who manage C.A.N. are also active in other leadership programs such as student council, Future Business Leaders of America (FBLA), and other various sports and activities. This program will grow and evolve based on the current needs and requests of the student body, and is therefore, dynamic enough to make a continuing impact on the choices made by the Platte County Youth.
To become a member of C.A.N., a student must sign a contract pledging to remain drug/alcohol free. The parents/guardians of the student must also sign the contract, which includes a medical release authorization and must be notarized. This medical release authorization only allows the C.A.N. Committee to request a member to take a drug test in the event that sufficient evidence warrants suspicion of drug/alcohol use. This is a rare happening, and the student in question can choose to relinquish C.A.N. membership rather than take the test.
When the committee needs to request a drug test, the parents are notified before the suspected student. This allows an opportunity for a parent/child discussion regarding drug/alcohol use. If a student agrees to take the test and the test proves positive for drugs, the information is given only to the parent and student involved -- never to the police or authorities. If the student refuses or fails the drug test, his or her membership is revoked for a minimum of six months, at which time the student has the option of petitioning reinstatement through the C.A.N. board.
Once the contract has been signed, the student recieves a C.A.N. photo identification card. The card allows the student to use the C.A.N-owned equipment, rooms, and incentives located througout Platte County. Local businesses offer discounts to students presenting a C.A.N. card, including clothing retailers, fast food chains, movie theaters, and other great services. A valid C.A.N. card can also be used for free admission to C.A.N.-sponsored events, such as dances, ice-cream socials and trainings.
Membership will be offered in the middle schools, but the role will be somewhat different at the middle school level. At the high school, C.A.N. is primarily a reward for good decisions a student has already made. A drug user is unlikely to give up drugs in exchange for discounts and social activities. High school students who sign a C.A.N. contract likely aleady have chosen not to use drugs.
At the middle school level, most students have not yet faced the possibility of drug use. It is at the elementary level where C.A.N. will play a very important role. Membership in C.A.N. confirms that a person is rewarded every day by choosing to be drug free. As a C.A.N. member, the rewards come in the form of discounts and social activities. In real life, the rewards are revealed as healthy relationships, decent jobs, and financial security. Many antidrug programs are reactive and tell kids to just say "NO." C.A.N. is PROACTIVE and encourages children to say "YES" to a better quality of life.
C.A.N. isn't seasonal; it would be foolish to think that students don't deal with drug choices when school is not in session, therefore, the program is fully operational during the summer months. Summer is also the first opportunity for upcoming middle school students to sign up for the program and use its benefits.
Numbers Don't Lie
According to the 2006 PNA, self reported alcohol use has remained relatively constant for all grade levels surveyed. As we expected, alcohol use increased with age. The largest increase occurred between the 6th and 8th grades.
The questions that always rise are: "How do they obtain alcohol?" 54.4% of 6th grade students who reported drinking alcohol said that they recieved their last alcohol beverage from their parents. 52% of 12th grade students who reported drinking alcohol said that they recieved their last drink of alcohol from an adult over 21 years of age.
"Where do they drink alcohol?" 59.6% of 6th grade students reported drinking in their own home in the past 12 months, as opposed to 49.6% of 12th grade students. Only 26.6% of 6th grade students reported drinking at a friend's house in the past 12 months, as opposed to 76.3% of 12th grade students. 8th grade students reported drinking at about the same percentage for both drinking at a friend's house (53.9%) and at home (54.7%) in the past year.
The most frequently reported substance used in Platte County was alcohol. Community Rewards for Prosocial involvement was low for 6th, 8th and 10th grade stdents. For 12th grade students, they feel we could improve on the School Rewards for Prosocial Involvement. We want to change these numbers.
Power to the Students
The idea behind C.A.N. is simple, yet revolutionary: give youth access to positive alternatives, and the responsibility to be accountable to one another, and they will make great choices. Too often the good kids -- the MAJORITY of kids -- are never recognized or rewarded for all of the things they do right. C.A.N. owes part of its success to the fact that positive peer pressure is at least as effective as negative peer pressure. This face has been seriously underutilized as a tool for encouraging socially responsible decisions. Another key component to the success of the program is student management. Without it, C.A.N. would just be another initiative mandated by adults who claim to know what is best for kids. From C.A.N.'s experience, it seems that kids really do know what's best.
OWN IT! -- 331-1556
Krista West (OWN IT! Director) -- 331-3042
Lewana West (OWN IT! Manager) -- 322-1556