2014 Blue & You Foundation for a Healthier Arkansas Grant Application
Texarkana Arkansas Police Department
The Texarkana Arkansas Police Department’s (TAPD) mission is to provide quality law enforcement services and to make our community a safe place to live, work, and raise a family. One of the many ways the TAPD strives to accomplish this is through practical policing. The TAPD recognizes the benefit of early intervention and prevention efforts as a method to deter crime and injury among youth. The TAPD has taken a proactive stance regarding injury prevention and behavioral education for area youth by directly participating with the Southwest Arkansas Prevention Task Force for the past five years.
Motor vehicle crashes, school violence, child abuse, suicide, and unintentional drug overdoses are important public health concerns in Arkansas. In addition to their immediate health impact, the effects of injuries and violence extend well beyond the injured person or victim of violence, affecting family members, friends, coworkers, employers, and communities (Healthy People 2020). TAPD recognizes early intervention as an effective method in promoting productive citizens, thus reducing the risky lifestyle that can lead to injury, death, or incarceration. Based on data from Arkansas Children’s Hospital, the top mechanisms for injury and death for Southwest Arkansas are infant injuries, motor vehicle crashes, ATV crashes, poisonings (which includes drug overdose), homicide, and suicide.
These risk factors do not only affect the TAPD, but also the local EMS, health care facilities, and behavioral health agencies. The Texarkana Police Department (TAPD) is the largest law enforcement entity in Southwest Arkansas and serves as the lead for proactive prevention programs for area youth. The TAPD will partner with the Southwest Arkansas Prevention Taskforce to host various trainings and programs in 2014 to promote positive change in the identified communities. The goal of this project is to reduce risky behaviors to protect the health, safety, and quality of life for all, especially children. It is expected that if direct health education programs are provided for teens, children, and parents of the local communities, healthy behaviors and routines will be deep rooted at a younger age and translate in a higher quality of life and productivity as adults.
The thoughts, ideas and concepts developed at Adolescence greatly influence one's future life, playing a major role in character and personality formation. To combat current local statistics, a day-long regional prevention training, STOMP OUT Negative Life Choices for 200 adolescents will be held to increase knowledge on negative life choices. During the training, participants will learn prevention and leadership skills related to the area’s top mechanisms for injury, and will be provided the tools necessary to return to their schools and communities as active advocates. In addition, the Texarkana Arkansas Police Department will host a week-long health education and behavioral training, P.R.I.D.E. Academy for 120 Texarkana Arkansas School District fifth grade students to provide encouragement and direction for making quality life choices. Based on this premise, the P.R.I.D.E. (Personal Responsibility In Daily Effort) Academy was established as a method to deter these early infractions and negative behaviors and promote positive life choices among young children in the Texarkana, Arkansas community. The P.R.I.D.E Academy focuses on providing participants instruction on recognizing and managing emotions, making good decisions, behaving ethically and responsibly, developing positive relationships, avoiding negative behaviors, healthy lifestyles, and financial stability. Such skills are a critical component in our youth in becoming productive members of our community.
In an effort to reduce injury and death in Southwest Arkansas, several Arkansas Children’s Hospital best practices will be implemented in the area. The TAPD and Southwest Arkansas Prevention Taskforce has been working with Arkansas Children’s Hospital, Statewide Injury Prevention Program (SIPP), and the Southwest Arkansas Trauma Regional Advisory Council on the outrageous incidence of preventable injury in the area. Key partners within the surrounding counties have committed to support the initiative by taking the lead on implementing programming within their community, of course working under the direction of TAPD. The most needed programs have been chosen; Safety Baby Showers, Drive Smart Challenge, and ATV Safety Campaign. Safety Baby Showers are designed to reach pregnant women who are considered "at risk" of not having adequate home and transportation safety due to low socioeconomic status, age or lack of family resources. Safety Baby Showers provide information, evidence-based methods and products to keep infants and children safe at home and in vehicles. The Drive Smart Challenge program focuses on the reduction of texting/talking and driving and the increase of seat belt use among teens. The Drive Smart Challenge is a 6 week program that will be implemented by a teen leadership group within the school partnering with a SIPP specialist and the Arkansas Department of Health. The ATV Safety Campaign will be carried out using a tool kit provided by SIPP which includes local media campaigns and awareness materials.
PRIDE Academy: The goal of the P.R.I.D.E Academy program is to reduce at-risk behaviors by promoting healthy lifestyles, educational achievement, and financial stability in youth by providing a positive influence in their lives before reaching adulthood. TAPD will offer a week long summer camp for kids that have successfully completed the 4th grade and are going into the 5th grade. The program is free of charge and will take place at the College Hill Middle School Campus in August. Camp will begin each day at 08:00am and continue until 3:00pm. The Texarkana, Arkansas Independent School District (TASD) counselors provide every fourth grader an opportunity to apply for this program. The school counselors choose the children with the most behavioral problems to participate. The camp is centered on a team concept with 5 teams identified by colors. Each team will consist of 20 youth participants, 3 police officers, 6-8 peer leaders, and 1 counselor. It is a very elite group of chosen officers who enjoy their job, want to make a difference in the community, and will give full effort into successfully achieving the above stated objectives of the camp.
While building on the concept of self-confidence, discipline, and team participation, police officers, counselors, and volunteers will present lesson plans and activities based on a variety of topics. Some of the scheduled activities include an obstacle course, baseball, dodge ball, volleyball, skits, music, and meeting the K-9’s. Additionally, the campers will learn about dangers of drugs and alcohol, gang prevention, peer pressure, anti-bullying, internet safety, gun safety, first aid, and what to do in an emergency. Each of these learning sessions will last approximately 50 minutes. Several other elements have been added to this program to enhance the efforts of achieving the objectives. This includes the opening and closing ceremonies. The Chief of Police and College Hill Middle School Principal presents a speech welcoming all camp participants to the program and to their new home for the next two years while they attend school. After the speeches are completed, the police officer team leaders, peer leaders, and volunteers will be introduced and teams will be formed. All police officers will be dressed in uniform during opening ceremonies to enhance the overall appearance of the program and create a lasting impression of professionalism. The last day of camp focuses on the week’s accomplishments. This day begins with a graduation ceremony and awarding of diplomas to each youth participant. The last day of this camp is designed to make the children feel as if they have accomplished something great and that they should be proud of themselves. In addition to the graduation ceremony, each youth participant will receive a full size backpack with all of the required school supplies needed for the school year. Not only will the backpack contain the necessary school materials, but any community organization or business will be allowed to contribute something to be included to remind the child that there are people in the community who care about them and their success.
The PRIDE Aftercare piece continues to be in the development stages. Key program leaders have been consulting with L.O.V.E., Inc. who has had a very successful mentoring program implemented for several years. The current goal is to host a meeting with community leaders to discuss the aftercare needs and components to engage community volunteers. At that time, there will be a series of mentoring trainings provided along with extensive background checks. When an adult volunteer is certified to be a mentor, he/she will be placed with a PRIDE Academy “graduate” for the remainder of the school year. The TASD has incorporated a time period one day per week when the PRIDE participants and their mentors can work together on organized service learning projects, fun activities, and continue to experience health education messages by guest speakers.
Stomp Out: The one day summit called Stomp Out: Negative Life Choices follows the exact methodology and design of the PRIDE Academy, without the aftercare component. The Stomp Out event has been successfully held since 2006 and is actually what the PRIDE Academy was modeled after. The Stomp Out event will be held in a geographically central location for the 7 county service area. The event will either be held in May after standardized testing or in the fall, depending on school preference. Since the area does not have a facility that can handle over 200 kids, the amount of schools that register will be the determining factor on how many kids each school can bring to the event. The event runs from 9:00am until 2:00pm to allow drive time for the schools. The students are broken into 5 groups by color and each group rotates through 5 learning sessions and a lunch period. The learning sessions focus on a multitude of risky behaviors and all have an interactive teach regarding decision-making , refusal, coping, and communication skills.
Safety Baby Showers: These showers are advertised in the local communities and recruit directly through the local family practitioners and the Health Department’s Maternity Clinics. As ladies register for the program, their due dates are recorded to determine how soon they need to be placed on the shower roster. It is intended to reach at least 40 pregnant women at showers within the service area quarterly. Pregnant women and their support systems are invited to attend a fun, interactive baby shower that provides education and safety products designed to help keep their infants safe in the first year of life. The events are decorated like a traditional baby shower and light refreshments are provided. Attendees are educated on safety topics, such as safe sleep, drowning hazards and motor vehicle safety which takes approximately two hours. All participants complete a pre and post test and complete some safety documents to take home such as a fire safety home plan and emergency call list. Home safety products such as smoke alarms and cabinet latches are provided to participants, along with other supplies to encourage safe practices just learned. Each participant qualifies for a car safety seat as well, however they are scheduled to participate in an individualized installation teach by a Certified Car Safety Seat Technician closer to the due date.
ATV Safety Campaign: The Taskforce has been working with SIPP to develop a program framework. Methods of promotion include speaking engagements at local civic clubs, radio public service announcements, a comprehensive tailored media campaign and distributing the ATV Safety Toolkit. The Taskforce plans to identify teen leadership groups within the service area to be trained on the ATV Safety Toolkit in an effort for these trained teens to provide peer based direct education to other teens and underclassmen within the school setting. The Taskforce is also working with the U of A Cooperative Extension Service to implement an ATV Safety Course Certification program locally. Another method is to engage local ATV retailers to participate in a supplemental program for safety equipment for youth riders and family education provided at the dealership.
Drive Smart Challenge
Taskforce members have been trained by SIPP in the Drive Smart Challenge program. It was even successfully piloted by nursing students this Spring at Cossatot Community College U of A campuses in three counties. The Taskforce plans to coordinate with local high school teen leadership groups to implement the program in 2014. The Taskforce will continue to work directly with the SIPP program, but also include local schools and law enforcement agencies in the program.
The Arkansas Drive Smart Challenge is a student-led six week program designed to increase seat belt use and decrease cell phone use while driving. It is designed for multiple schools to participate which creates a healthy and motivational “challenge”. As a reward for their efforts, each high school group participating receives award opportunities for successful results in the following categories: Most improved seat belt use rate; Best overall seat belt use rate; Highest passenger seat belt use; Lowest driver cell phone use; and Most unique/creative scrapbook and activities.
TAPD will serve as the lead, working through the Taskforce, to schedule, recruit, and evaluate the Computer Literacy trainings. TAPD will work through the community colleges and educational cooperatives within the service area to secure appropriate computer labs and trainers for the initiative.
PRIDE Academy $20,000
STOMP OUT Negative Life Choices $20,000
Safety Baby Showers $24,000
Drive Smart Challenge $7,000
ATV Safety Campaign $10,000
Computer Literacy Trainings $10,000
Total Project Budget $91,000