CTC reviews results of youth survey

LEWISTOWN – Mifflin County Communities That Care held its annual meeting on Friday to review the results of the 2013 Pennsylvania Youth Survey – and the overall results are good for Mifflin County.

Executive Director Nancy Records said 90 percent of eligible students in eighth, 10th and 12th grades took the survey.

“We still have a lot of work to do but use is coming down,” Records said of drug and alcohol use among young people.

The amount of young people using alcohol, illegal drugs or prescription narcotics has been on a steady decline, according to data gathered by CTC.

“Our work is not done … moving in the right direction,” Records said.

The report wasn’t all positive though. Categories on the rise include symptoms of depression and perception of peer disapproval.

“This is an eye opener to me. This is something we can’t ignore. What’s this telling us? What can we do about it?” Records said.

Records and others also spoke about the importance of implementing evidence-based programming as a prevention tool.

One of those programs, the Second Step, a widely used program throughout the country, has had good results in Mifflin County. The program works on preventing violence, substance abuse and improving mental health.

Records said 85 at-risk youth per year were helped after school with this program.

The program is also taught to kindergarten through fifth grade at Lewistown Elementary, East Derry Elementary and Lewistown Intermediate schools. Students are taught skills for learning, empathy, emotion management and problem solving.

“Prevention is cheaper than waiting for a problem and treating the problem,” Outgoing CTC President Jennifer Hepner said.

Hepner presented co-founder Karen Goss with a plaque for her service with CTC.

Goss, who now works with inmates at the State Correctional Institute at Rockview, said the things she learned while at CTC she still uses in her current job.

Goss said she works with inmates who are in the process of being released and discusses risk factors and environmental factors that may affect them as they are reintroduced into society. This is an effort to mitigate the likelihood they will re-offend and end up back in prison.

Many other volunteers were honored as well, including the volunteers of the year, Mifflin County Correctional Facility Warden Bernie Zook and Downtown Lewistown Inc. Executive Director Jim Zubler.