Thursday, December 14, 2017; Silver City, NM: After a short hiatus, the Youth Substance Abuse Prevention Coalition (YSAPC) returns this month, now aligned with a new nonprofit and led by a new coordinator, A.J. Sandoval.
A Grant County native, Sandoval is a graduate of Cobre High School and Western New Mexico University. “I’m glad to be returning home,” said Sandoval, who previously worked for the New Mexico Department of Health as the Health Promotion Specialist for Hidalgo and Luna Counties.
Sandoval studied Environmental Health Science at the University of Arizona, after receiving a Master’s Degree in Public Health from New Mexico State University. He is also a Certified Health Education Specialist.
Previously, Sandoval volunteered as chair of the YSAPC subcommittee which reviews area schools’ policies on substance abuse. YSAPCs other subcommittees focus on media and prescription drug education. In his new role as CHI program specialist, dedicated to coordinating the Coalition, Sandoval hopes to have an impact on the health and well-being of the community that reared him.
Sandoval is positive about the YSAPC’s future, “The momentum is still there, and we plan to run with it by creating new strategies to address emerging issues.”
Funded by a grant from the New Mexico Human Services Division Office of Substance Abuse Prevention (OSAP), the YSAPC focuses on prevention of underage drinking and youth prescription drug abuse through policy change in Grant County. The grant was recently transferred to Southwest Center of Health Innovation (CHI) from the Town of Silver City.
“CHI is no stranger to substance abuse prevention and we recognize the importance of continuing these efforts in Grant County,” said Susan Wilger, CHI Associate Director.
“Our staff has been involved in the consortium coordinating a regional response to substance abuse and behavioral health needs, the Continuum of Care Coalition, since its inception in 2003. Currently, we oversee Doña Ana County’s OSAP program, the Unified Prevention Coalition, and formally oversaw Catron County’s OSAP program until funding was cut in 2016.”
Wilger added, “We are thrilled to have A.J. join the CHI team, because he brings a wealth of experience in public health and substance abuse prevention. He is so well known in the Grant County community.”
CHI hopes to continue the success of YSAPC programs like working with the schools, WNMU and law enforcement to deter substance use among students and young adults.
Previously, the YSAPC partnered with the Town of Silver City and Bayard Police Department to install MedReturn kiosks in both municipalities. The green kiosks offer free disposal for unused over-the-counter and prescription medications. Over 500 pounds of medications have been safely disposed of by Grant County residents since the program began two years ago.
Sandoval said the kiosks are an example of public health policy in action, “Getting the drugs out of people’s homes when they aren’t needed makes for safer community for everyone.”
The Coalition invites the public to attend their upcoming meeting on Tuesday, December 19, 2017, from noon to 1:30 p.m. in Hidalgo Medical Services Silver City Community Health Center’s Community Meeting Rooms, located at 1007 N. Pope St. At the meeting, the public can learn more about YSAPC efforts while enjoying a complimentary lunch.
The YSAPC is composed of 25 service providers and invested community members dedicated to creating an environment that cultivates healthy productive lifestyles through policy and advocacy change that promotes resilient and empowered youth.
For more information on YSAPC contact (575) 534-0101 or email: email@example.com.