SAFE Barstow Drug Free Communities Coalition
The Substance Abuse Free Environment (SAFE) Coalition was comprised of members who represented the diverse, rural, desert community of Barstow, California, with representation from many different sectors of the small city, including the school district, local law enforcement, youth, youth serving organizations, parents, businesses, healthcare, media, local government, and substance abuse organizations. This community organizing project became an opportunity for residents and community advocates to identify what issues were impacting the community and to work toward creating a safer, more thriving Barstow.
In partnership with IPS, the fiscal agent and lead agency, the SAFE Coalition became the main group in the city dedicated to reducing youths’ access to alcohol and harmful substances. IPS worked with residents to bring culturally relevant, evidence-informed training to youth and adult members for successful outcomes.
The work of the SAFE Coalition was essential in creating a healthier and safer Barstow by engaging community leaders to establish and support the SAFE youth group. Students from the local high school mobilized to decrease underage drinking at house parties and to increase understanding of marijuana’s harmful impact on youth. They also partnered with pharmacies and medical personnel to closely examine opioid and meth abuse in the community.
The SAFE youth group became the driving force in the city for alcohol and other drug policy, such as the Social Host Ordinance and Responsible Retailer programs, while also becoming a school support group with a positive and well-known presence on campus at Barstow High School.
The Barstow SAFE Coalition was funded by a SAMHSA Drug Free Communities Grant.