By Natalie Conrad
Herald Staff Writer
Gateway ImpACT Coalition was honored as a leader of substance abuse prevention in the state at its annual breakfast on Friday.
Iowa Drug Policy Coordinator Steve Lukan presented the coalition with one of two state awards given annually by the Governor’s Office of Drug Control Policy for excellence in reducing substance abuse.
“Gateway ImpACT is a perfect example of a coalition doing great work,” Lukan said. “Gateway has been a leader and continues to go above and beyond.”
The local coalition received the award for outstanding work in fighting prescription drug abuse and educating families. Gateway has teamed up with local law enforcement to host the Clean Out Your Medicine Cabinet Day event for the past five years, collecting 2,800 pounds of prescription drugs.
“Iowa is a leader in pain killer abuse and Gateway ImpACT has been a huge part of that,” Lukan said. “We have collected 20,000 pounds across the state and Gateway ImpACT has been a real leader with their Clean Out Your Medicine Cabinets event.”
Clinton County is also the first county in the state to offer medication disposal boxes, provided by a partnership between the coalition and Clinton County law enforcement agencies. Dropboxes were installed last fall and are located in the lobbies of the Camanche police station, Clinton police station and DeWitt police station, in addition to the Clinton County Sheriff’s Office.
“We are leading the way in Iowa and hopefully others will follow,” Coalition Coordinator Kristin Huisenga said.
In addition to their efforts to tackle prescription drug abuse, the group provides education and marketing tools for a wide range of substance issues across the county. They run several workgroups and educational programs for issues such as marijuana and underage drinking, methamphetamine, Iowa Alliance for Drug Endangered Children and are constantly staying on top of new drug trends. Their prevention efforts have guided and educated the community and addressed a wide range of age groups.
“Working together can do so much,” County Attorney and ImpACT Board Member Mike Wolf said. “We are a can-do community. We know that prevention dollars are well spent. This community has always stood up to tackle things first.”
The coalition offers support to businesses and families through its initiatives.
The Training for Intervention Procedures program offers skills-based training to prevent intoxication, drunken driving and underage drinking by educating servers, sellers and consumers of alcohol. Businesses also gain the ability to protect themselves from legal issues by offering the training to their employees. More than 500 families took part in their “Got a Minute? Eat with me,” campaign last year and took the pledge to put in more face time with their kids and build strong relationships to help discourage drug use.
“So many great things have stemmed from the positive initiatives in the coalition,” Board Member Dan Boyd said.
Future plans for Gateway include changing the “Got a Minute? Eat with me,” to emphasize exercise and the Blue Zones Project and offering more outreach and education for parents.
Community leaders gathered to support the coalition and expressed their appreciation for the work they have accomplished.
“This is something we can be proud of and continue to be proud of,” Wolf said.