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Establishing an Ecosystem of Support

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Danielle-Sielatycki

During the formative years of a person’s life it is important to ensure that they receive all the tools necessary to make proper choices. Peer pressure combined with the everyday stressors of growing up can present great obstacles for a young person’s social and emotional progression. Luckily, Prevention Works is here to help!

Prevention Works provides resources for schools, clubs, and juvenile systems that assist youth with making healthy decisions.

According to Danielle Sielatycki, Chief Executive Officer of Prevention Works, the organization’s mission is simple.

“Prevention Works is a natural partner with the Kalamazoo Public Schools (KPS),” she said. “We work to prepare students for The Kalamazoo Promise (The Promise).”

From elementary through high school, Prevention Works is crucial in helping many students graduate from KPS.

“With the assistance of community partners, we form an ecosystem of support around the student that sets them up for success,” Sielatycki explained.

The organization has developed this stable environment for students through analyzing and researching local data, coordinating community networks, and delivering programs to youth and families. Substance use and violence prevention, social emotional development, family life skills, parenting, and adolescent health are just some of the topics addressed by these practices.

“We gear research towards students in 7th, 9th, and 11th grade in order to better understand where we are needed most,” Sielatycki said. “A specific goal of our organization is to prevent substance abuse and violence in order to avoid treatment or incarceration.”

To achieve this goal, it is important that a positive impression is made on kids at a young age. Programs like Peer Power help in establishing this connection.

As an after-school program for students ages 9-13, Peer Power utilizes interactive games and group discussion to explore the risks of drugs and alcohol.

“Students that go through Peer Power have the opportunity to help run the program as a high schooler,” Sielatycki stated. “Teens are trained and then hired to work as peer educators throughout their high school career. Once they reach college, these students can go on to facilitate and supervise sites and programs as an outreach worker.”

Judging by the statistics, Peer Power has proven to be a huge success as 100 percent of peer educators go on to graduate high school.

With the effectiveness of Prevention Works’ tactics and programming, it comes as no surprise that many faced a wait list in order to take advantage of the organization’s services. Luckily, a recent capital campaign has helped with this issue.

“We raised $2.3 million to move to a new facility at 309 N. Burdick Street in November 2019,” said Sielatycki. “Programming and services will now be on site and the location is very convenient for our employees who use public transit. The capital campaign will also allow us to expand our curriculum and establish an endowment fund for sustainability.”

Thanks to the support generated by this campaign, Prevention Works will be able to serve more than 9,000 youth and families per year.

Curious about Prevention Works’ programming? Visit their website for more information!

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