Each year, KYCC’s Prevention Education participates in the promotion of National Prevention Week (NPW), held annually from May 10 through May 16. National Prevention Week is dedicated to raising awareness about substance use, mental health, opioid and alcohol misuse, illicit drug use, and youth marijuana and tobacco use.

KYCC Prevention Education staff had to find creative ways to celebrate National Prevention Week this year amid the coronavirus pandemic. Rather than attending the NPW conference or hosting prevention workshops, staff engaged with community members virtually, through Zoom webinars, virtual community forums, and on social media. KYCC staff created daily videos for Instagram Stories and Facebook Stories on topics such as the dangers of youth marijuana use.

KYCC participated in a Virtual Community Forum on May 21, hosted by the Coalition for Prevention and Awareness in Los Angeles Metro (CoPALM) and Los Angeles First Youth Tobacco Coalition (LAYFTC). KYCC Prevention Specialist Hilcia Guerra was one of the speakers who discussed vaping trends and impacts, the potential implications that COVID-19 has on individuals who smoke and vape, and how parents, youth and young adults can navigate through this difficult time.

In an effort to provide data-driven community solutions, Prevention Education staff spent countless hours conducting 1,600 surveys throughout Council Districts 2, 4, 5, and 11 on the topic of secondhand smoke in Los Angeles apartments. Their findings were presented by the UCLA Center for Health Policy Research in a webinar hosted by Peggy Toy, Director of the Health DATA Program and Catherine Count, Public Policy Analyst on May 20.

Despite an increasing number of smoke-free local laws, KYCC’s findings showed the proportion of Californians reported a rise in exposure to secondhand smoke from tobacco, marijuana, and e-cigarette vapor. Presenters discussed the gaps in existing voluntary smoke-free policies and the need for a consistent implementation to prevent high-levels of exposure to secondhand smoke for Los Angeles residents.

Throughout the month of May, KYCC also participated in the 30 Day #DOdetox social media challenge initiated by the County of Los Angeles network of Substance Abuse and Prevention Control providers. The county-wide collective impact campaign presented daily health and wellness challenges designed to promote positive mental and emotional wellbeing. 

This year’s CoPALM’s Annual Rise Up, Speak Out: Youth Story-telling showcase focused on sharing stories about the impact of COVID-19. The community art initiative named Collective Apart, focused on art, photography, video, spoken word and poetry submissions from community members sharing their personal experiences dealing with the coronavirus pandemic. 

“Storytelling can be a powerful way to maintain social connections and promote positive mental health. It is a reminder of our resiliency, and the need for the human spirit to meaningfully and creatively connect — even while apart,” says Jaime Flores, Prevention Specialist.

Although public gatherings were not permitted during NPW 2020, Prevention Education staff found creative ways to virtually connect and start conversations about substance use, mental health and illicit drug use with community members.

Prevention Education is funded by Substance Abuse Prevention and Control (SAPC), a division of County of Los Angeles Department of Public Health. To learn more about our program, please visit here.