Submitted by: Reiley Curran
With a grant from the Chelsea-Area Wellness Foundation, and support from Chelsea Community Hospital, the Dexter Wellness Coalition is gearing up to launch SRSLY Dexter.
SRSLY (texting jargon for seriously) is a youth substance abuse prevention coalition that started in Chelsea five years ago. Through community collaboration and youth leadership, Chelsea has seen teen drug and alcohol use drop by more than 30 percent since 2007, according to Reiley Curran, director of SRSRLY Chelsea.
“It has worked in Chelsea, and it can work here,” Dexter resident Paul Cousins said. “The great part is we don’t have to start from scratch. It’s already been developed, and it is ready to go.”
According to the 2010 Michigan Profile for Healthy Youth survey, 38 percent of high school students, and 7 percent of middle school students have consumed alcohol in their lifetime; 21 percent of high school students said they had used marijuana.
Curran said SRSLY works to prevent youth substance abuse by strengthening protective factors, and weakening risk factors related to drugs and alcohol. Youth are engaged and involved in leading all SRSLY activities, including fun substance-free events, and public awareness campaigns.
“We are just beginning to get organized, and we need lots of input from youth and adults,” Curran said.
SRSLY Dexter is holding a dinner and community forum on April 16 from 6:30 to 8 p.m. at the Dexter District Library's community room. This event is free and open to the public. Members of the Dexter Wellness Coalition will present local data on youth substance abuse, get feedback on conditions that contribute to youth substance abuse, and let people know how they can get involved.
During the next six months, the group will establish youth and adult steering committees, conduct focus groups with teens and parents, create a strategic plan, and launch a website. Volunteers can help with all of these tasks by joining the Avoid Unhealthy Substances sub-committee of the Dexter Wellness Coalition.
The sub-committee included two interventions in their portion of the Dexter wellness plan for 2013. In addition to replicating SRSLY, Dexter is also implementing the Big Red Barrel program. Big Red Barrel is a prescription and over-the-counter drug disposal program for residents of western Washtenaw County.
“Kids are abusing these drugs because they are easy to get, and they think they are safe,” said pediatrician Dan Chapman. “This program gives people an easy way to get rid of their unused medications, without flushing them down the toilet.”
Barrels are being installed at the Washtenaw County Sheriff substations at 8140 Main St. in the village of Dexter, and 1055 N. Zeeb Road in Scio Township, with a drop box that will be available 24 hours. The planning committee is targeting Feb. 14 as the kickoff day for this program.
For more information, visit www.srslydexter.org.