Youth Task Force receives Healthy Communities Principle Award

In this file photo, some proud members of the Youth Task Force coalition display the 2011 Healthy Communities Principle Award their work received. Front row (l to r) Jamie Vanderhoop and Sarah Parmenter. Middle row (l to r) Eve Heyman, Sue Costello, Theresa Manning, Jean Kelleher, Amy Lilavois, Tammy King, Judy Boykin-McCarthy, Rob Doyle and Cindy Doyle. Back row (l to r) Bill Jones, Paul Bracy and Mike Joyce. — Photo courtesy of Theresa Manning

The Dukes County Health Council Youth Task Force (YTF) recently received a 2011 Healthy Communities Principle Award at the fifth annual Healthy Communities Conference.

The Massachusetts Department of Public Health Office of Healthy Communities and the Mass. Partnership for Healthy Communities hosted the conference in Worcester on June 21.

The Principle Awards recognize community coalitions or teams that best exemplify at least one of nine healthy communities’ principles in action in their communities, according to the Mass. Partnership’s website.

The YTF received its award for work that reflects the principle of “diverse resident participation and widespread community ownership.” Sarah Parmenter of Health Imperatives, who works closely with the YTF on planning and strategy implementation, nominated the task force for the award.

“The Youth Task Force has been an entirely community-led effort from the beginning,” YTF coalition coordinator Theresa Manning wrote in an email to The Times with news of the award. “The need for youth substance-abuse prevention on Martha’s Vineyard was identified by several community members, unlike similar programs, which are often initiated through an agency.”

As a community-owned initiative, she said the YTF coalition includes diverse representation from police departments, town government, tribal government, schools, local business owners, youth, parents, youth service organizations, and the faith community.

With such a large coalition base, Ms. Manning said, the YTF has made important strides towards reducing youth substance-use, as shown by a significant health outcome linked to its social norms campaign.

Within the first two years of the campaign, Ms. Manning said survey results for the number of high school students who reported substance-use (alcohol, marijuana and other drugs, and tobacco products) within the past 30 days decreased from above 50 percent to below 50 percent.