On Track’s drug prevention philosophy is based on the following expectation:
that helping youth to develop skills and confidence,
make wise choices, and focus on education can be effective in
preventing youth from getting involved in drug use and criminal behaviors.
"There is something better to live for than drugs" is precisely what America On Track believes we need to teach youth before they are lured to drugs and a life of missed opportunities. The teen quoted above was one of the lucky ones who may have made a paradigm shift to new habits and new perceptions. However, statistics offer a less inspiring outlook. According to Boston University School of Public Health "each year there are more deaths and disabilities from substance abuse than from any other preventable cause." Recognizing the great need to reach out to youth, America On Track Teaming Communities and Youth for a Safer Society has been proactive in collaborative efforts to reduce drug abuse, violence and gangs in designated areas throughout Orange County. America On Track uses multiple strategies and multi-component approaches to substance abuse prevention. This includes active participation in community collaboratives and providing educational seminars to parents and/or students on alcohol, inhalants, marijuana, tobacco among other methods.
Additionally, from 2003 to 2008, America On Track was the lead agency, on behalf of the Santa Ana SPIRIT Weed & Seed Coalition, for the Drug-Free Communities Support Program. The Coalition project was a comprehensive, culturally sensitive, substance abuse prevention plan, which involved young people and included community-wide prevention activities.
The Weed and Seed SPIRIT Coalition represented a collaborative partnership with the U.S. Department of Justice, Executive Office of Weed and Seed, the U.S. Attorney's Office and the City of Santa Ana. The coalition included Santa Ana residents, local businesses, schools, churches, community based organizations, law enforcement and governmental agencies and other interested community partners. The Santa Ana Weed and Seed program encompassed a multi-agency strategy that "weeded out" drug use and trafficking, violent crime, and gang activity in the target neighborhood and then "seeded" the area through social and economic revitalization. This strategy involved the linking of federal, state and local law enforcement and criminal justice efforts with local social services, the private sector and related community based programs in an effort to maximize existing resources. Through community involvement, local residents were empowered to solve problems in their neighborhoods by working together as pivotal partners in the private sector and local government.
Through the Drug-Free Communities Support Program, the SPIRIT Coalition carried out multiple strategies to address the highest priority drug problems experienced by young people living in the most impoverished high-risk neighborhoods of Santa Ana. To reduce substance abuse among youth, and over a period of time among adults as well, there was an emphasis on increasing community collaboration to strengthen coalition efforts in the targeted, disadvantaged Weed and Seed Site 2 of Santa Ana. Key methods and activities to address the problems were: 1) the On Track Youth-to-Youth Mentoring and Youth Asset Building Program with Conflict Resolution Training; 2) the Drug Education for Youth (DEFY) Camp; 3) Parent Education Seminars; 4) the multi-strategy and multi-component Coalition services, which included assessing community needs, creating baseline indicators, coordinating substance abuse prevention services and serving as a link between coalition and community agencies; 5) the leadership training and development of teen advocates for drug-free communities; and 6) an alcohol, tobacco, and marijuana prevention media campaign. The above-cited methods and activities addressed multiple domains: individual, peer, family, school, community and society/environmental, as well as multiple risk factors that were taken into consideration in the proposed project design.