News from RSAPP 


            May 2013

Events & Training 


Teen Maze May 6, 7 & 8. Cortez . A life-sized board game where teens learn about the consequences of a variety of lifes's choices. School Community Youth Collaborative organizes this event for middle school students from across the region. Adults are welcome to experience the Maze on Monday, May 6, from 4:00-6:00, and last-minute volunteers should contact  Tyra Hughes.

Call for Volunteers: Tri-Ute Games July 22-25, Ignacio. The Southern Ute Tribe will host this year's annual gathering of young athletes from all 3 Ute Tribes.
Volunteers are needed to support activities including basketball, cross-country, swimming, warrior challenge, etc. For more information, contact SunUte Recreation Manager 
Kevin Winkler


Call for Nominations: Governor's Service Awards statewide, June 21 deadline. the Governor and Serve Colorado are accepting nominations for outstanding individuals and organizations in a variety of categories, including Outstanding Community Leader, Outstanding Youth Volunteer, and Outstanding AmeriCorps Members. Click here to submit a nomination. 


Colorado Certified Prevention Specialist Informational Meeting June 26, 9:30-11:30, Durango. Join officials from the Colorado Office of Behavioral Health to learn about Colorado's new prevention certification program. For more information about certification, visit the CCPS website.


Leadership Practicum

6 month program, beginning August 13. $750 (scholarships available.) OMNI's Regional Prevention Services has opened registration for its acclaimed Leadership Practicum. The Practicum includes an initial 2-day intensive (Aug 13 & 14,) individual coaching, and 2 sessions in November and February. For more information, visit the Leadership Practicum website.

Many thanks to RSAPP's Generous Funders:


Serve Colorado


 Commission on Community Service)


Daniels Fund 


El Pomar Foundation  


Anschutz Family Foundation 


Durango Mountain Resort 


RSAPP's Board of Directors 


STUD - Students Taking action against Underage Drinking




Coutts & Clark Western Foundation 



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May 12 is Mother's Day
  Parents (mothers, fathers, and other caregivers) are a perhaps the most important part of substance abuse prevention. Studies have shown that parents have a significant influence on young people's decisions about alcohol consumption, especially when parents create supportive and nurturing environments in which their children can make their own decisions.
     Although they might hide it - teens really do listen to parents. Talk to them, they hear you. Happy Mothers Day! 

Keeping Prom-goers Safe

STUD team at prom
The STUD team at Dove Creek Prom

     Many high school students consider prom to be the biggest night of the year. Unfortunately, national statistics have shown that prom is also the most dangerous night of the year for high school students. Prom is rife with traditions and expectations, and many teens find themselves in situations which encourage risky behavior around alcohol, drugs and sexuality. In southwest Colorado, prevention providers and community members work hard to keep prom-goers safe, providing educational opportunities and events that tempt teens with fun and safe activities.

     In Dove Creek, STUD (Students  Taking action against Underage Drinking) hosted an interactive trivia booth at prom. Prom-goers answered questions about underage drinking, and correct answers garnered cash prizes. Everyone loves cash, so this activity was quite popular.

     Dolores High School had a more direct approach. The school partnered with EMS, the health department, and CDOT to distribute and collect Contracts for Life before prom. By signing, students commit to communicate with parents if they are ever in a situation where the driver has been drinking, and parents commit to pick them up or arrange transportation, no questions asked. DHS prom-goers had to pass a breathalyser test before entering.

     Another popular prom safety strategy is the after-prom party.

Pagosa after prom party
Inflatables at Pagosa's After Prom Party

These all-night, blow-out affairs are supervised by adult volunteers. After prom parties are drug- and alcohol-free, and provide prom-goers with a safe place to go after the dance, free from the temptation of risky behaviors. 

     Durango High School had a successful after prom party at the Community Recreation Center, with an obstacle course, a mechanical bull, a giant bungee and a casino room. Volunteer Sonja Hecker said, "The After Prom Party was a BLAST! Laughing kids everywhere - literally, hundreds of them." Community volunteers in Bayfield, Pagosa, and Ignacio also rallied to provide memorable parties after their proms, with activities including inflatables, photo booths, a virgin bar, music, food and fun. 

     These strategies are effective. The Durango Office of the Colorado State Patrol reports that they have not dealt with any serious incidents on prom night ever since the After Prom Party tradition began. When given the opportunity for healthy options, most youth will make good decisions!


RSAPP AmeriCorps Member of the Month: Kyra Moon

Kyra Moon
Kyra Moon - AmeriCorps member serving San Juan Basin Health Dept

     Kyra Moon is passionate about community health issues, and is also a "recovering perfectionist." She brings this rare combination of detail and passion to her service as an RSAPP AmeriCorps member with San Juan Basin Health Department, focusing on the Celebrating Healthy Communities coalition (CHC.)

     CHC Coalition is a vibrant group of community members and organizations that addresses alcohol, tobacco and other drug abuse among youth and young adults in La Plata County. As Community Prevention Organizer, Kyra helps coordinate the coalition (aka herding cats,) and is involved in a variety of community-based projects. Currently, Kyra is securing mayoral proclamations for recipients of the Adult Role Model Awards, running focus groups for the "They Are Listening" parent-oriented media campaign, and training youth workers on cultural competency. She will be at Cinco de Mayo events, sharing information with youth and adult community members, recruiting volunteers and mobilizing community members.

     When Kyra started her term of service, she found community organizing a bit confusing. She says, "My other jobs have been very structured, and this is so different than anything I've ever done." She has worked as a credit analyst and a Public Health Intern in Bosnia, and is one of very few who holds degrees in both Finance and International Human Rights. Kyra really appreciates the training and experience she is gaining as an AmeriCorps member, and is interested in continuing to serve. She has applied to be a Peace Corps volunteer in the health sector after AmeriCorps. 

     Kyra grew up in southwest Colorado, graduating from Bayfield High School. She lives in a yurt with 4 animals, which can get a bit hectic. Kyra loves Zumba (she calls it her "happy place") and is also into kick-boxing. She is a Big Sister through BBBS, and her long-term boyfriend (7 years!) is a high school classmate. You can contact Kyra Moon by sending her an email.  

SW Colorado's Check & Connect Partnership 
Receives National Attention
Check & Connect Logo
     RSAPP communities are using the evidence-based Check & Connect program to address the pervasive risk factor of Low Commitment to School in our region, and our unique approach is gaining national attention.  
     Our Check & Connect partnership is featured on the University of Minnesota's Institute on Community Integration website. Researchers noticed that RSAPP AmeriCorps members serve as Check & Connect mentors (this may be a unique pairing of AmeriCorps and Check & Connect;) that Check & Connect is coordinated on a regional level (it's usually limited to one school district, or implemented across a whole state;) that we are a rural area (as opposed to urban or suburban;) and that our Check & Connect program is demonstrating success. Additionally, the partnership that places Check & Connect mentors in southwest Colorado schools is exemplary: San Juan BOCES provides program coordination and training, RSAPP supports and trains AmeriCorps members, an Inter-agency Oversight Group provides some funding, and of course schools provide students and supervision. All organizations are working towards similar goals (increased school success) and the students are the winners. 
An Epic Day of Volunteering                       by Kelsie Borland
Epic Day at Escalante Middle School
     As RSAPP Program Coordinator I am not able to engage with youth as much as I would like. I was proud and delighted to serve as a volunteer for the "Epic Day" event at Escalante Middle School in Durango the first week of April. Epic Day is part of the Hero Project, a new-wave program that uses mythology, games, mentors, small-group confessionals and a "time machine" to combat bullying, suicide and drug abuse. Epic Day is an innovative all-day event that launches an eight-week youth program on leadership and community engagement.

     The day starts off with a gambit of interactive games that get hearts and minds racing, and raises curiosity about what will happen next. I was able to connect with multiple youth via a laugh, chit chat, and even showing off some dance moves. Epic Day facilitator Loren Lapow led the group through various team activities with grace and pizzazz, which can be difficult with youth. Loren has found effective ways to keep large groups engaged.

Epic Day group

     By lunchtime we formed smaller groups of four youth and one adult volunteer. This is where I found myself opening up more than I ever thought I would with a group of middle school students. We were asked to  

share things with our "family" group starting with the sentence "If you really knew me you would know that..." This simple sentence pulled out so many emotions, stories, empathetic hugs and support. It was amazing to see the youth, who may have known each other very little or not at all, gain perspective and respect for one another.

     After lunch, Loren began the Cross the Line activity. He split the gym into two sides and in turn, directed the group to "Please cross the line if you've lost someone; if you've been hurt at home; if you're from a single-parent family; if you've been made fun of for the way you walk, talk, look, because you're a boy, because you're a girl. Please cross the line if you've ever thought about suicide." Trying to hold back tears, I observed how impactful it was to simply move to the other side of the room for these youth and even for the adults. It was a great opportunity for the group to see what their peers are dealing with and the perspective they gained was limitless.share things with our "family" group, starting with the sentence "If you really knew me you would know that..." This simple sentence pulled out so many emotions, stories, empathetic hugs and support from everyone. It was amazing to see how the youth, who may have known each other very little or not at all, learned things about each other that helped them gain perspective and respect for one another.

     This amazing day ended with an opportunity for anybody to grab the microphone and shout out to those they love and respect, or to individuals they want to apologize to. With passion and love, many youth thanked one another for being there when they really needed a friend. Some shared thoughts and feelings towards family members that had passed or were not there to hear it. Some of the adult volunteers shared their appreciation for the day itself. This was an EPIC day to say the least. I left exhausted but fulfilled and re-energized to work in the field of prevention with the wonderful youth in our communities!

     The Hero Project is not unique to Escalante Middle School. It is also successfully implemented in the Ignacio community. To learn more about Epic Day and the Hero Project, contact Loran Lapow

Fort Lewis College Clears the Air
FLC Campus

     Fort Lewis College will soon become a healthier place to study, live and work. Effective August 1, 2013, the College will enact a new campus-wide tobacco policy, "Smoke Free Campus with Designated Smoking Areas." Tobacco smoking on campus will be prohibited, excepting a small number of designated smoking areas. This replaces the previous policy, which prohibited smoking within a 50-foot zone around all campus buildings. The new policy's goal is to protect non-smokers from the health hazards of second-hand smoke, while accommodating the needs of those who choose to smoke. Smoke-free college campuses are an increasing trend: smoking is banned on more than 1,000 campuses nationwide, including CU Boulder, which goes smoke-free in August.

   Tobacco prevention policy at Fort Lewis College has an extensive history. In 2002, FLC was in the first cohort of 7 colleges and universities awarded a Colorado Collegiate Tobacco Prevention Initiative (CCTPI) grant. Marc Goldfarb, Director of Student Health Services says, "This grant enabled FLC to employ student interns for policy and prevention work, to send groups of staff and students to national and regional tobacco prevention conferences, and to present at the National Symposium on Tobacco and Youth."

   Two years ago, FLC President Dean Thomas appointed a Presidential Guidance Committee to study the issue of secondhand smoke on campus. The first step involved a yearlong plan to reinforce the 50-foot smoke-free zone policy by increasing signage and moving trash receptacles. RSAPP AmeriCorps member Susy Raleigh helped raise awareness around the issue, saying, "I began to notice that there wasn't much student buy-in or interest in whether they changed the smoking policy or not." Susy worked with faculty and students on presentations, student-designed surveys, a photovoice project, and articles and interviews with the FLC newspaper and the Durango Herald. Ultimately, the Committee determined that the 50-foot policy was not adequately addressing the secondhand smoke issue, and the President's Cabinet voted to adopt the Smoke Free with Designated Smoking Areas policy.

     The option of going completely smoke-free will be investigated in the future.

Coutts & Clark Foundation, MercuryGives Support RSAPP
Thank you!

     RSAPP is thrilled to announce that we have two new funders: MercuryGives and Coutts & Clark Western Foundation. Both organizations are locally based, and are very supportive of RSAPP's regional approach that empowers community-based prevention organizations. We are proud and honored to include both organizations among our partners.

     MercuryGives is the philanthropic division of Mercury, a Durango- and Denver-based merchant payment services company. Mercury supports its local communities, and has donated more than $650,000 to local organizations over the past three years. Mercury also supports a robust employee volunteer program. Each Mercury employee can use up to 1% of their time (approximately 20 hours per year) to volunteer with local nonprofit organizations. To learn more, contact MercuryGives.

     Coutts & Clark Western is a small family foundation that distributes grants and contributions to tax-exempt charitable organizations operating out of La Plata County. Coutts & Clark supports projects and organizations that focus on developing skills rather than meeting basic needs, that protect the planet's ecological systems, that enhance the development of children, and that promote economic self-sufficiency.

     Many thanks to RSAPP's two new funders!

RSAPP AmeriCorps Site Partner Applications Available
AmeriCorps Logo

     RSAPP has released the application for Site Partner organizations who wish to host an AmeriCorps member during the 2013-2014 program year. While the continuation grant has not yet been awarded, RSAPP anticipates having 13 full-time equivalent AmeriCorps Members on the 2013-14 regional AmeriCorps team. All members will start September 1, and will serve a 10-, 11- or 12-month term. More information about the Site Partner application is available here, and the application form is available here. Applications are due May 31, 2013. For more information, or to request an application in MS Word, contact Cathy Cowles. 

Want to Support RSAPP?
Hands together

     Regional Substance Abuse Prevention Partners appreciates financial contributions of any size, and welcomes in-kind donations of needed goods or services. RSAPP is a nonprofit corporation exempt under IRS section 501(c)(3), and all donations are tax-deductible. Please make your check payable to RSAPP, and mail to: PO Box 4378, Durango, CO  81302.

Regional Substance Abuse Prevention Partners (RSAPP) works towards a vision of "engaged, thriving youth invested in strong communities throughout southwest Colorado." Thank you for being part of RSAPP! If you have any submissions for next month's newsletter, please send them to me.



Cathy Cowles

RSAPP Executive Director