SRSLY was founded in Chelsea, Michigan in 2008 by a group of community leaders and concerned citizens. The community was struggling with youth substance abuse, despite having introduced a number of programs and interventions.
The Coghlan Family Foundation recognized the need for something new and different that could create positive, community-wide change. With leaders from St. Joseph Mercy Chelsea and the Chelsea School District, the Coghlans put forth a vision for a community-based prevention initiative and the necessary resources to support such an initiative. The combined energy of the foundation, hospital, and schools inspired leaders from other key community sectors to get involved.
School-based programs were already teaching students about the negative consequences of substance abuse, so SRSLY Chelsea was developed as a positive, community-based complement to the school programs. As a coalition, SRSLY could implement community-wide strategies with youth, parents, and other adults working together to address the problem.
The Four Community Coalitions
Today, SRSLY is a community coalition of youth, parents, neighbors, coaches, teachers, librarians, doctors, nurses, police officers, religious leaders, business owners, civic groups, and anyone else who wants to prevent youth substance use.
Three more communities in Michigan now have their own active SRSLY coalitions: Dexter, Stockbridge, and Manchester. Together, the communities have more than 1,000 volunteers donating their time and energy. Anyone age 10 and up can join by working on a project, helping at an event, or coming to a meeting. Our strength comes from our members as we work to create positive changes in our community.
“We give people the opportunity to change their behavior, as a coalition we’ve changed a lot since our first year.” – Ellen, Chelsea Youth Steering Committee President, 2008-2012
“There is a level of goofiness in the coalition. That’s what makes it special. That’s what makes it fun. We really are a big family. The most important thing to SRSLY is our members.” – Devin, Chelsea Youth Steering Committee President, 2012-2013
All SRSLY activities are guided by strategic plans and needs assessments, which are completed every four years.
Based on data from the needs assessments, the coalitions determine the top youth substance abuse problems their communities. They also identify the risk and protective factors that are the root causes of youth substance abuse, as well as the local conditions that contribute to these destructive behaviors. These factors guide the activities and programs that SRSLY coalitions use every year in their action plans.
SRSLY uses the seven strategies defined by Community Anti-Drug Coalitions of America (CADCA) for effective community change. Our priority substances, risk factors, and protective factors guide the activities we implement for each strategy. Here are some examples of strategies and activities currently being implemented by SRSLY coalitions:
- Provide Information – Project Sticker Shock
- Build Skills – Guiding Good Choices, Youth Empowerment Solutions
- Provide Support – Fun, substance-free events for youth and families, like SRSLY Cinema and our New Year's Eve party
- Enhance Barriers/Access – Responsible server training, Compliance checks
- Modify Policies - Advocating for policies that prevent youth substance abuse
- Change Consequences – CTZN of the Month and member recognition
- Change the Physical Environment – Big Red Barrel medicine disposal program
SRSLY has been recognized by state and national organizations for leadership, collaboration, and outcomes. Awards and honors include:
- 2011 Spirit of Excellence Award, National Runner-up, Modern Healthcare Magazine, Community Category
- 2011 Excellence in Education Award, Best in the State, Michigan Association of School Boards, Health and School Safety Category
- 2013 Ludwig Community Benefit Award, Top Four in Michigan, Michigan Health and Hospital Association