Annual Report FY 20

Preface

Last fiscal year (July 1, 2019 – June 30, 2020), Prevention Action Alliance strived to fulfill our mission of leading healthy communities in the prevention of substance misuse and the promotion of mental health wellness. 2020 presented unique and serious challenges to our nonprofit. We responded by creating digital educational resources for parents, teachers, and prevention professionals about parenting and prevention during the COVID-19 pandemic, and we transitioned the in-person We Are The Majority Rally to the Virtual We Are The Majority Rally and broadcasted that event to thousands of young people across Ohio.

In this report, you’ll find more details about what we did before COVID-19 and how we responded vigorously to COVID-19, including:

Letter from the Executive Director

On behalf of the board of directors and the staff of Prevention Action Alliance, I want to thank you for helping us be responsive to the needs of Ohio’s communities, families, young people, colleges and universities, and prevention professionals.

At the risk of sounding obvious, last year was unprecedented. A year ago, no one would have predicted the impact that the novel coronavirus would have on Ohio. All aspects of our society have been impacted, from how we work and learn, to how we celebrate and socialize. The work of Prevention Action Alliance was impacted as well. As we all were working to prevent the spread of the COVID-19 virus, the Prevention Action Alliance team saw this time as an opportunity to build upon our work and execute the mission of the agency.

With your support, Prevention Action Alliance was able to respond quickly and effectively with new communication strategies and tools to provide education, empowerment, and advocacy to prevent substance misuse and promote mental health wellness. I am proud to share the outcomes of the Prevention Action Alliance team’s innovative adaptations to the challenges created by the pandemic.

Within the first weeks of the pandemic, the Prevention Action Alliance team created Everyday Prevention, a daily email series designed to assist families with the new challenges they faced due to increased togetherness, and increases in anxiety, stress, and depression. Data indicated that the mental health of children, youth, and adults was negatively impacted due to changes in daily activities and structure, the fears of the virus, and isolation from friends and extended family. Everyday Prevention used the Search Institutes’ proven 40 Developmental Assets as a foundation and provided parents and other caring adults with practical, easy to use, and proven strategies that develop assets for growth and success.

Another innovative response to the needs of our network members was the development and implementation of the Prevention Action Alliance Coffee Klatsch, a virtual gathering of prevention professionals and subject matter experts. Prevention professionals across the state shared their need for a platform to discuss new ideas, respond to changes in the work, and connect with one another. The initial Coffee Klatsch spotlighted the data that identified increased consumption of alcohol during states’ shutdown orders and discussed the evidence-based strategies that prevention professionals and community coalitions could employ to increase protective factors and reduce risk factors. Since that initial Coffee Klatsch, this learning and engagement strategy has discussed problem gambling, racial reform, suicide prevention, and community engagement with hundreds of participants.

The coronavirus pandemic also impacted the annual We Are The Majority Rally.  Through the creativity of the OYLPN Youth Council members and resourcefulness of the Prevention Action Alliance team, the annual We Are The Majority Rally was re-imagined and restructured to become a virtual event, live-streamed and viewed by thousands of youth and adult allies across the state and the nation. From the safety of their homes, youth celebrated and supported their healthy choices and reminded their communities that the majority of young people do not misuse alcohol, tobacco, marijuana, or other drugs.

I would be remiss if I did not spotlight the first, inaugural Prevention Advocacy to Action Summit that was held in December 2019, under the leadership of then-Executive Director Marcie Seidel. This innovative and educational advocacy summit made its debut and positively impacted the work of prevention professionals and community stakeholders as they worked together to address youth use of e-cigarettes. Completely supported by the development activities of the Prevention Action Alliance Board of Directors, the first Prevention Advocacy to Action Summit on Vaping launched a new platform for the agency as we continue to advocate on the behalf of prevention.

It was during this unprecedented year that we learned of Executive Director Marcie Seidel’s decision to retire. We are forever in her debt for the leadership, vision, and dedication that she invested on behalf of Ohio communities, families, and professionals.  As Marcie was fond of saying, “Everyone has a role in prevention” and I thank her for ensuring that Prevention Action Alliance was well positioned upon her retirement to continue its important work.

The death of George Floyd in May of 2019 shook the world and rekindled the flame that illuminates the ugly truth of racism that all too many people know all too well. We at Prevention Action Alliance are committed to doing our part against racism. We declared racism a public health and prevention priority, but the Prevention Action Alliance team didn’t stop there. We have led Coffee Klatsches and conversations about racism, intend to hold the Prevention Action and Advocacy Summit on Racism: Promoting equity through cultural competent prevention in May 2021, and are committed to learning more about and doing our part to combat systems of oppression and violence and to promote love, change, equality, equity, and unity. Now, more than ever, it is imperative that we initiate conversations, share relevant research, and illustrate best practices.

Sincerely,

Fran Gerbig

Executive Director