Norfolk Prevention Coalition defined a vision for “A Connected Community; Reducing Harm; and, Expand the Prevention Continuum.
Recently, we checked in with past client, Archie Boone, the Partnership for Success Coordinator for the Norfolk Prevention Coalition (NPC) in the City of Norfolk, Virginia. Boon shared the outcome of our shared project, the PFS grant and insights on additional challenges currently facing youth in the Norfolk community and brought to light, fueled by the COVID-19 Pandemic.
In 2017, Norfolk Prevention Coalition was one of nine coalitions across the state of Virginia to receive funding from the national Partnership for Success grant to establish the vision of “A Connected, Caring community capable of providing quality accessible care, expanding the prevention continuum, reducing overdose and harm.
From the first year, the community needs assessment established that Norfolk needed more programs, knowledge in the community about where to go for help, access and knowledge to Naloxone. Additionally, there was an overall lack of statistics concerning the prevalence of substance abuse within the community.
As a part of the PFS training, the NPC with the Virginia Department of Behavioral Health and Developmental Services (VDBHDS) through a partnership with Turnkey to solidify their vision, author a mission statement, “Working together to reduce use of drugs, alcohol and tobacco,” and create a plan for action in their community. These are the foundational elements that must be in place before the action begins. Fast-forward to today and we can take a look at what NPC was able to accomplish and take a look at how they continue the work beyond the initial 5-year scope.
What Success Looks Like.
Trainings & Education
One of the 1-3 year goals established during of the PFS grant for NPC was the implementation of REVIVE!, the Opioid Overdose and Naloxone Education (OONE) program for the Commonwealth of Virginia. Boone was happy to report that the program has been deployed, resulting in about 100 sessions since 2017 (depressed after the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic), 1000s of individuals trained. In one 30-day period during FY18/19, 130 sheriffs were trained.
One of the most successful initiatives to spring from the PFS work is “Training the Trainers.” NPC is working with pre-medical students on the campus of Eastern Virginia Medical School, starting with the first experience during their residency to address the role of over-prescribing in the ongoing addiction crisis in the community. NPC can give them knowledge of harm reduction and tools to get ahead of one root cause for substance abuse in the community, state of Virginia, and the United States.
Creating Awareness & Collecting Data
In 2019, Pharrell Williams brought the “Something in the Water” festival to Virginia Beach to promote human rights. NPC was able to partner with the event. First, an oceanfront team passed out hard cards addressing prevention and recovery. Thanks to the event’s GEO fencing technology, NPC was able to send alerts and information to the pre-registered participants after they entered the event, resulting in the collection of 4,000 responses. Media partners Adams outdoor and Cox media were at the event to promote prevention and recovery as well.
Another ongoing community initiative is Young Adult Surveying. NPC administers the Youth Risky Behavior Survey (YRSB), which incentivizes the completion of the survey for all students and young adults in the community.
At the end of 2020, a documentary addressing the Norfolk Opioid epidemic was completed. This film was created to create awareness and spawn dialog. It featured the work from the PFS including the needs assessment. Boone wrote four songs for the soundtrack. He touted the recent debut of the Hulu mini-series “Dopesick” as evidence for growing efforts to use media to tell the story of the origin of the opioid crisis and create new awareness.
Communication & Capacity Building
In an ongoing effort to educate community leaders about the current substance issues in our community and the outcomes of Coalition initiatives, NPC hosts an annual town hall meeting.
Norfolk has also established Ambassadors for Change, a group of 18 diverse community leaders chosen from different sectors to be champions for the community.
How the Pandemic Changed the game:
On the PFS front, the pandemic slowed down the training session. The NPC had to retool the training process. We turned to online training, integrated video, and utilized MarcoPolo, a voicemail platform to increase participation.
More broadly during COVID, the Norfolk community has seen a rise in gun, gang, and domestic violence. With the closures of schools, businesses, and rec centers, there has been a loss of support for the youth. The City is struggling to create positive outlets for the youth and voices to encourage. In addition to the loss of that support, youth are facing greater pressure and more severe issues than before the pandemic: difficult home situations, cyberbullying and isolation are leading to increases in suicide. COVID raised awareness on public health and mental health though. This is placing a focus on intervention with online issues. There is a needs assessment currently underway to address this. And that brings the community back to the initial framework.
At the core of the PFS Communities’ success in addressing addiction is the SAMHSA Strategic Prevention Framework Model. TurnKey believes that this model has tremendous application beyond prevention. It is a problem-solving powerhouse. This opinion is also shared by Boone. “SPF-PFS [model] keeps me sane so I continue to follow that process. I gained this progress, maintaining efficiency. I apply Strategic Prevention Framework to all aspects, even in my personal life/business.”
At the end of Turnkey’s last session with Norfolk Prevention Coalition, Boone sat in the back of the room, following up every comment of his fellow coalition members with a round of applause from the silly clappers from under the table. Just a small moment to foreshadow his enthusiasm to support prevention efforts for the Norfolk community.
From 2015-2018 Turnkey w/ Kim Brown worked as project coordinator/manager to facilitate Partnerships for Success (PFS), a 5-year grant funded by the DBHDS Department of Behavioral Health Wellness. The goal of PFS was to reduce the use of prescription drugs and Heroin in 12-25-year-olds across the Commonwealth. To do this, the agency wanted to better equip coalitions to address addiction within their unique communities. Across 25 counties & 10 cities of the commonwealth gathered to implement the SAMHSA Strategic Prevention Framework Model, which consisted of 5 steps: assessing their community needs, building capacity, creating a prevention plan, implementing the plan, and evaluating the outcomes. This project was completed in FY 19-20, Partnerships for Success year-end review is available here.