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About feelings and
“If a person is sitting in the middle of the school, like, crying or something, a lot of people are gonna make fun of them. And if you go try to help them, they can make fun of you, too.”
“You can see physical abuse or describe sexual abuse. With emotional abuse, people tell you that you have depression and you should just get over it.”
“They thought that self-harm or being suicidal was a trend.”
About problems they see:
“A big problem is that if you’re not showing signs of struggling and are keeping up in school, they don’t care. Like you’re not a priority to them. Not worth the effort.”
“We had a conversation about how students don’t always want to talk to a counselor or staff member because they don’t feel like they can open up. I don’t trust them, I don’t want to talk about it to them, I don’t know them well enough.”
“A big reason that people don’t open up is that a lot of parents don’t know how to deal with it.”
About the support
“It’s important that parents are like anchors and they’re always there.”
“I know our personal lives are not their concern, but as a decent human being, just try asking them what’s wrong first before you try to, like, be on them about things.”
“Not seeing a kid as a mess-up, but as someone who messed up.”
In June 2016, Jefferson County Public Health (JCPH) received a grant for the Communities That Care program.
The grant is funded by the marijuana tax cash fund, managed by the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment (CDPHE). In 2016-17, CDPHE received about $7,125,000, in marijuana tax money, and received about $9,000,000 in 2017-18. The Jeffco grant will be awarded for five years, beginning in 2016. By 2021, the county is projected to receive more than $1 million in grant money.
Supplemental funding for the local Communities That Care initiative comes to Jeffco from the 2017 Drug-Free Communities Support Program grant — a grant from the White House Office of National Drug Control Policy and the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, for $125,000, with potential renewable funding up to $725,000.
Colorado Communities that Care: https://www.colorado.gov/pacific/cdphe/ctc
Jefferson County Communities that Care: https://www.jeffco.us/2232/Communities-That-Care
Youth today have a lot to deal with.
They face the pressures of fitting in among their peers and the stressors of succeeding in academics and extracurricular activities.
And all this at an age when they are developing their individual sense of self and figuring out their role in society.
“We want to make sure we understand what’s going on with our youth,” said Pamela Gould, the Communities That Care coordinator for Jefferson County Public Health.
So to better understand and recognize youths’ needs, and to prevent some of the problems they face before they even start, Jefferson County is one of 50 communities in Colorado implementing the Communities That Care program.
“All of these communities are working to improve the lives of their youth,” Gould said. “We are really lucky to have a community that truly does care.”
The Communities That Care program is designed to prevent substance abuse, reduce violence and improve mental health among youth. The goal is to create policies, systems and programs that reach children and families, and help youth grow into productive adults.
It was important to first hear what youth had to say. To do this, 21 youth, ranging in age from 14 to 18, were selected to intern as youth researchers to gather data on what they are experiencing in the Jeffco community.
Eight focus groups took place in March, and the 21 student researchers hosted and ran six of them. Participants of the focus groups were 67 youth ranging in age from 13 to 18+ who came from Lakewood, Wheat Ridge, Edgewater and surrounding communities. Here is a sampling from the hundreds of quotes the youth researchers collected during their internship.
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