Tennessee Afterschool Network (TAN) is responding to the opioid crisis by engaging partners and youth in prevention education efforts. Research shows that students participating in high-quality afterschool and summer programs are less likely to abuse drugs or alcohol.
Tennessee has been hit especially hard by the opioid epidemic. In 2017 there were nearly 1,200 opioid overdose deaths and ten times as many non-fatal overdoses. Afterschool is in a unique position to offer prevention education to youth and families.
Last week leaders from a wide range of local and state organizations convened to outline next steps. Efforts will include providing resources for out-of-school-time programs, tools and activities for program participants, service-learning projects, anti-stigma campaigns, and partnering with communities in drug take back efforts and engagement of other sectors, including seniors, corporations and the faith community..
With funding from the Charles Stewart Mott and AmerisourceBergen Foundations, the task force will be providing professional development to afterschool program staff, conducting parenting training programs, and strengthening coalitions that will support afterschool efforts.
Mary Graham, TAN’s Lead Staff, says “We know that afterschool programming teaches children and youth to make smart decisions, and it also helps them cope and heal. This work increases our voice, our partnerships, our outcomes, and as a force that improves lives.”
Wendy Peay, United Ways of Tennessee Board Chair, added “We are proud to be the fiscal agent for this work and are partnering with afterschool programs throughout the state to build their capacity and impact. We are especially excited about increasing youth engagement and raising the youth voice through service learning, education, and other activities.”
To learn more and become a member of Tennessee Afterschool Network, link to http://www.tnafterschool.org/.