Juniata County Innovators

It’s particularly impressive that the Juniata County Prevention Board put such an emphasis on data as they planned and executed their PA Stop campaign. After they were finished, they could see a measurable difference in several key areas: knowledge of local medication take-back boxes and the frequency with which youth misused medications obtained from friends or relatives.

1. Tell us about your organization. What do you do? Who do you serve?

Juniata County Prevention Board (JCPB) uses the Communities That Care model, an evidence-based prevention framework. That means we use data (in our case, the Pennsylvania Area Youth Survey) to understand exactly what our community strengths and weaknesses are, especially as they relate to issues that affect youth like drug and alcohol use, bullying, delinquency, and perceptions of risk.

We meet monthly as a coalition and have representatives from the school district, law enforcement, the health field, probation and parole–as many different types of community member as we can gather together.

As a coalition, we see ourselves as a catalyst to help organizations and individuals that are doing good work. We want to bolster them and equip them with information and tools.

2. How long have you been using PA Stop in your work?

I started working for the JCPB near the beginning of the PA Stop campaign. I was hungry for resources and the website really stood out to me. I’ve used the website from the very start.

3. Tell us about some of the ways that you have utilized PA Stop to spread information about opioids.

Right away we connected PA Stop to promoting drug take-back boxes in our community. We saw that link immediately. Back in 2015, one of the statistics that really stood out to us when looked at the PAYS data was that 46% of youth who were using pills took them from their own homes or from a relative’s. We saw that issue as low-hanging fruit. We needed to alert the community that by getting medications out of the home, they’re protecting their youth and themselves as the same time.

We used PA Stop materials to help us promote the use of our community’s medication drop-boxes and hosted a series of events that allowed people to dispose of medications right on the spot.

We also started partnering with our local senior citizen centers. That’s a population that often has medications that they aren’t using, but seniors might also have trouble traveling to the take-back locations. Our main take-back box is in a location where you have to pay to park and you have to parallel park, and we saw that as a barrier. So every other month, we do a drug take-back event at a senior center, where seniors can dispose of their medications on-site.

PA Stop display at the library

In 2018, we were recipient of a PA Stop mini grant and that helped us step up our efforts. We focused on linking the familiar PA Stop images to an action that people could take.

The first thing we did with funding was to put up a billboard on route 322, which is very heavily traveled. We chose the “Break the Connection” image and listed the location of the medication drop-boxes in our county. The billboard stayed up for a year.

The second thing we did was to used that same image and do a direct mailing to most addresses in the county with more detail about what the dropboxes accepted, the hours, and the locations.

And the third thing we did was to put the same “Break the Connection” image on magnets, which we used to reach out to our local doctors and pharmacies. We introduced ourselves, told them what our coalition does, and gave them our magnets, which have the PA Stop logo in one corner and a list of drug drop-boxes in the other.

Finally, this last fall, we were able to set up a display in our local library with PA Stop materials, including a large retractable sign. We handed out PA Stop information along with information about local drug drop-boxes.This display was so well-received that the library has invited us back again in 2019.

4. What do you think are the most exciting or successful ways that PA Stop has helped you achieve your mission? We are particularly interested in tangible success–do you have any data or have you received any feedback that shows success?

Prior to the grant, we had that 2015 PAYS data that showed that 46% of students took medications from their own home. In 2017, that  number dropped to 21%, which was a huge success.

We also have results from two community perception surveys done at different time points. In the summer of 2017, we sent a survey to community members in general, with a special target on educators in the county school district. One of the questions we asked was whether they were aware if there was a medication disposal box in their community. At that point, about 50% of people said that they were aware.

After we had done so much outreach using the mini-grant in 2018, we had the opportunity to redo that survey. On the second survey, about 72% of people said they were aware of the drop-box in the community. It was great to have that baseline data before we received the mini-grant and then to be able to see the data after the mini-grant. These results show that using these materials has created awareness.

5. Are you currently make any new plans that involve PA Stop resources?

Oh, definitely. I love that the images are familiar across the state, so that when we’re promoting them here in Juniata County, people can see the same images in State College and in Harrisburg. We’ve talked about trying one of the newer campaigns like the “Care Enough Not to Share” message.

I’m positive we will continue to use PA Stop in our work.

6. We are trying to help organizations and SCAs understand how they can use PA Stop in their communities. Do you have any advice or words of wisdom, based on your experience?

There are so many images that you can use in different locations. For example, we put the images in our quarterly newsletter. You can also put the PA Stop logo in your email signature, which is a simple way to spread the message.

I encourage people to take a look and see what’s available. I look at that the PA Stop website a lot and it just kind of gets the wheels spinning, gets me thinking about what is possible.