The Nodaway County Commission presented $10,000 to Northwest Communities Care (NWC) team members on June 6.

The donation was from the National Opioids Settlement that the county has received. So far the county has received $15,039 from the distributor and $8,840 from Janseen. Additional dollars are expected through these two companies and others that settle their cases.

NWC is a registered coalition, with roots back to 2023, made up of multiple community partners and volunteers. One of the organization’s goals is to prevent substance use and abuse in the region. The NWC have hosted two events in Nodaway County with middle and high school students who have a support system the area youth should expect to empower one another.

In 2023, youth from six county schools attended a “brainstorming event” to begin the conversation on their past experiences at school involving drugs, alcohol, tobacco and vaping. Attending students painted the picture of their school’s environment as well as in their community with their peers. Both students and school officials noted they were interested in finding solutions and strategies to improve prevention efforts.

In year two, 2024, Nodaway County students formed teams of 5 – 7 youth when they came back to learn through the testimonies from a panel of youth support specialists who have lived with substance abuse, bullying, homelessness and the lessons they learned. The students learned more about decision making, the influence of drug, tobacco, vape and alcohol companies and refusal skills. By understanding the way to make good decisions, it prepared them for the next level of training to work with their peers.

Next year, the group will continue to build on the previous years experience with the students returning to solidify their Trailblazer School Team by focusing on leadership skill building. A professional presenter, Jake White with Vive18, will design, plan and facilitate one-day to train the student attendees about good decision-making with strategies and ideas of how to get their peers excited about making healthy choices. In addition to the youth training, White will lead an in-service for staff who will be working with the students. This train-the-trainer type session will prepare youth partners to guide the Destructive Decisions curriculum.

Also scheduled for next fall, there will be a presentation through the Maryville Partners in Prevention which Captain Austin Hann from the Nodaway County Sheriff Department, along with his team will be coordinating. This will be a two-day program with one day focused on youth leader training and the other day to train adult support individuals such as counselors and other school representatives.