Magazine article Public Management

Community Health and Safety Award, Populations of 10,000 to 49,999: Dover, New Hampshire

Magazine article Public Management

Community Health and Safety Award, Populations of 10,000 to 49,999: Dover, New Hampshire

Article excerpt

ICMA's Community Health and Safety Award recognizes the innovative local government programs or processes that demonstrate improvement in the community's safety, health, and/or wellness, including enhancement in the quality of life for the disadvantaged. This category is sponsored in part in memory of Carolyn Keane, first wife of ICMA's fourth executive director, Mark Keane, and in memory of Bill and Alice Hansell, parents of ICMA's fifth executive director, William H. Hansell. This year, ICMA presents the award in the 10,000-to-49,999 population category to the city of Dover, New Hampshire, and City Manager J. Michael Joyal Jr. for Dover Youth to Youth.

Because drug and alcohol abuse often begin before adulthood, addressing these problems among youth can be critical to a community's quality of life. In Dover, New Hampshire, where 85 percent of crime has been linked to drug and alcohol abuse, the city met the problem with Dover Youth to Youth (Y2Y), a comprehensive, peer-oriented substance abuse prevention program that gives students in grades 6-12 the opportunity to be part of the solution.

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Since its inception in 1993 with a dozen sixth graders, Y2Y has grown to almost 200 students each year, making it one of the largest programs of its type in the state. Students can formally join in sixth grade, where they are exposed to Y2Y role models in the classroom, engage in simple projects, and learn such basic advocacy skills as public speaking. At each level they get the chance to develop new skills and accept more responsibility. In high school, the projects are more aggressive in tone: they have more "attitude," in keeping with the age.

Participants are divided into seven teams, each with more than 20 students and its own adult advisers. Teams focus on their own specific prevention projects and often collaborate on projects. As students get older, the teams become more independent and their projects more sophisticated. Older students are also more active in program design.

Dover Y2Y takes on initiatives in five areas of community advocacy:

* Community awareness: Each year, Y2Y students undertake projects to raise the public's awareness of substance abuse issues. For example, they have demonstrated against the tobacco industry's marketing of candy-flavored products to attract youthful customers; protested the redirection of state funds away from prevention efforts; and testified before the state Senate on smoke-free restaurants. They also work with local stores to raise awareness of the dangers of underage drinking.

* Legislation: Over the past seven years, Y2Y students have proposed and passed four city ordinances and three state laws on substance abuse-related issues. …

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