The PAL Coalition is a collaborative coalition working to reduce substance abuse by young people living in the 7th Street corridor – Park Hill, Algonquin and Old Louisville – of Central Louisville. Housed in and partnered with Family & Children’s Place, the organization engages young people in prevention efforts and works to bridge the gaps between community, school and home life.
The coalition uses strengths and community-based approach to prevention, responding to changing community needs and directly involving community members to develop and implement prevention activities. Young people play a major role in coalition work and hold leadership positions in all programs and activities.
The vision is to create a healthier and safer community with strong families that have the necessary opportunities, relationships, networks and supports to raise their children successfully.
Goals are to:
- Establish and strengthen collaboration among communities, private nonprofit agencies and federal, state and local governments to prevent and reduce substance abuse among youth.
- Reduce substance abuse among youth, and over time, among adults
(TOP PHOTO) In October 2014, U.S. Rep. John Yarmuth, D-Ky., announced a $625,000 grant, provided through the federal Drug-Free Communities Support Program (pictured above). The five-year grant will help the coalition’s work to reduce and prevent substance use among young people.
In September 2016, the PAL Coalition opened a community center at Lynnhurst United Church of Christ in Southwest Louisville, giving students a place to go after school, the hours that most young people are at risk of dangerous or disruptive behavior.
At the center, students get homework help, study, learn about advocacy, led by Kentucky State Rep. Joni Jenkins and PAL board members, and play games in the gym, basketball and board games. Since opening, students have shown up in increasing numbers, producing both positive and exciting results.
The center welcomes students from 2:30 to 5 p.m., Monday through Friday, among them a number of refugee students and English as a Second Language (ESL) students, a goal established in the original PAL grant eight years ago.
Education and information
PAL regularly provides and participates in education and information sessions. Recent topics have included marijuana and its impact on communities, Black Trauma and Implicit Bias.
The PAL Coalition, bimonthly, offers Mental Health First Aid trainings, for adults and adults working with young people. The all-day courses increase participants’ understanding of mental health issues and treatments, help connect people with care and reduce stigma.
The goal is to provide hope for recovery.
Participants learn signs and symptoms of different types of mental illnesses, how they can affect a person’s daily life and how they can help when someone is experiencing these challenges – important because members of the public are more likely to have contact with someone in a mental health crisis, such as being suicidal, and want to know how to respond.
PAL sponsors numerous evidence-based training, including Green Dot; Question, Persuade and Refer (QPR); Server Training in Alcohol Regulations (STAR); and Training for Intervention Procedures (TIPS).
With PAL’s focus on reducing the use and abuse of substances in its target community, the coalition participates in student research to measure and monitor outcomes. According to a 2015 Youth Core Measures Report, in the six years the 7th Street PAL Coalition has been working with students, schools and families in the Park Hill, Algonquin and Old Louisville neighborhoods, the percentage of students reporting they use alcohol, cigarettes and marijuana decreased every year, a significant finding.