Bucks Promise for Youth and Communities is a consortium of organizations, agencies and coalitions who have mobilized around a mission of strengthening our communities, with an emphasis on the prevention and reduction of substance abuse, particularly amongst youth. The concept of working together on this important topic grew out of the President’s Summit for America’s Future in 1997. At that time, Presidents Clinton, Bush, Carter and Ford (with Nancy Reagan representing President Reagan), along with numerous governors, mayors, and community delegations challenged America to make children and youth a national priority. The America’s Promise Alliance was formed and included Five Promises that communities would make to young people to assure their success in life. Following the Summit, in the year 2000, local county leaders including county commissioners, district judges, school superintendents, representatives from the Bucks County Drug and Alcohol Commission, Inc. and numerous business leaders decided to bring this concept to Bucks County.
Since that time, Bucks Promise for Youth and Communities (BPYC) has evolved and grown, but has always prioritized the importance of prevention in safeguarding our young people from the dangers of drugs and alcohol. The recently released 2014 Monitoring the Future Survey, an annual study of teen behavior conducted by the University of Michigan, revealed that prevention efforts by coalitions and collaborative efforts such as Bucks Promise are yielding positive outcomes. Alcohol, tobacco and all drug use with the exception of marijuana and e-cigarettes have decreased among teens. These results have been attributed to on-going evidence-based community prevention efforts. Most of the organizations who attend the monthly meetings work in partnership with many sectors of our local communities, including schools, hospitals, law enforcement, faith-based groups, etc. so that the dissemination of information and sharing resources is maximized. The group discusses such topics as current drug trends, grant availability, and evidence-based programs which have proven effective in reducing drug use. Guest speakers target specific areas of interest, suggested by the members.
Most recently, Bucks Promise members have worked together through participation in the National Drug Take Back Days, a partnership between the federal Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), law enforcement, and community groups. Additionally, members of BPYC have assisted in providing permanent medication collection boxes in police departments, municipal buildings, and the Bucks County courthouse. Bucks Promise originally embarked on the Take Back initiative in an effort to prevent prescription drug misuse among youth as well as to protect the environment. Research shows that one out of every four teens admits to misusing prescription painkillers, and EPA studies have detected pharmaceuticals in the water supply. The Bucks County Medication Take Back Committee, formed as a subcommittee of Bucks Promise, has been working to reduce these statistics.
In an effort to reach more organizations, businesses, and residents of Bucks County, the consortium is pleased to announce that we will be providing regular op-eds in this newspaper, following this introductory article. We look forward to sharing with the public relevant information, data, and discussion points related to the prevention of drug and alcohol use by our youth. We hope that through this increased communication, we can bring more individuals and groups to the table, to work together on these critically important issues in all of our Bucks County communities.