Tags: 

Donna Moore discusses the important role community partnerships play in helping kids avoid drinking underage.

With great anticipation, most teachers across the United States begin their preparation for the 2013-2014 back to school season. Is your school ready? Have you prepared how you’re going to engage your students and make sure they know how to say NO to underage drinking this year?  In Payson, Arizona, we have already completed the 4th week of school. Each year schools search to create an atmosphere that will enhance the overall academic, health & wellness of students. I feel the community of Payson is on its way to accomplishing this goal.

Last year, Payson Unified School District (PUSD) created a School Health Advisory Council (SHAC). Members included Payson’s Chief of Police, Gila County Health Department, PUSD Food Service Coordinator, Mogollon Health Alliance, Payson Parks & Recreation, Payson Regional Medical Center, PUSD Maintenance & Operation Director, Physical Education Specialists, School Nurses, PUSD School Board Members and Administrators, and parents to name a few. This council has focused on one goal: To improve the overall health & wellness of students in our community.

Through our continued collaboration with The Foundation for Advancing Alcohol Responsibility and the Ask, Listen, Learn: Kids and Alcohol Don’t Mix program, we empower students to “Say ‘Yes’ to a healthy lifestyle and ‘NO’ to underage drinking!” As physical Educators, we know it takes a comprehensive approach to make sure our students do not engage in risky behavior. This means helping them constantly in being physically active and keeping the conversation going regarding alcohol and the dangers of underage drinking. 

With partnerships with our Food Service Coordinator we have stepped up nutrition education for all students. Our Payson High School Culinary Arts students provide yearly nutrition & physical activity tips to all third-grade students. The various health organizations bring immunizations, dental care and eye examinations into the schools free of charge. As a result of a grant, we are fortunate to have a Payson police officer as a permanent member of our school community. The Payson Police Department has built lasting relationships with students and is involved in the drug and underage drinking prevention programs throughout our district. Payson Parks & Recreation provides physical activity opportunities for individuals of all ages.

The Payson Unified School Health Advisory Council continues to grow and improve. I encourage everyone to add a SHAC to their district to focus on what’s important, our children and their wellbeing. Every organization has a vested interest in our student’s health, wellness and success. Through strong community partnerships, we have created opportunities for organizations to assist our district in creating the greatest experiences for our children to learn and avoid risky behavior such as underage drinking.

Donna Moore

Physical Education Specialist and one of Responsibility.org’s 20 People to Watch