Student drug abuse and anti vaping programs honored

Dan Hicks, Dawn Anderson, Gabe Teran, Maritza Garcia, Catherine Puccetti and Amber Macias at the honors presentation.

The Ventura County Office of Education’s Department of Comprehensive Health and Prevention Programs (CHPP) was recently honored for its efforts to teach students about the dangers of opioid use, vaping and other risky behaviors. The department received the Pillar of Prevention award from Ventura County Behavioral Health (VCBH). The award was established to honor exceptional contributions to the field of prevention by those who are working to preserve and protect community health.

The award recognizes CHPP’s programs designed to promote student health, including:

Direct in-school drug awareness and vaping presentations for students

Youth leadership and mentoring programs to discourage dangerous behavior

Prevention trainings for school administrators, educators, and counselors

Interpretation of California Healthy Kids Survey data to inform other agencies

As part of the Safe Schools initiative under the County’s Prescription Drug Abuse and Heroin Workgroup, CHPP Director Dawn Anderson and her team led the development of opioid-specific drug education and the creation of the “Buzz Kill” graphic novella used in to discourage prescription drug abuse among students. They also developed programs to raise awareness of prescription drug and heroin abuse among parents. Most recently, Ms. Anderson worked to make the medication Naloxone (Narcan) available at VCOE school sites to potentially save lives in the event of an opioid overdose.

The Pillar of Prevention award was presented to VCOE by VCBH Prevention Services Manager Dan Hicks at Monday’s meeting of the Ventura County Board of Education. “It’s been said that prevention is a team sport because meaningful change takes real collaboration,” Hicks said. “There are lots of agencies with strong efforts, but VCOE has demonstrated an amazing combination of data-driven programming and a focus on community health this year that really stands out in the middle of the opioid crisis. Dawn and her staff are the folks everyone wants on their team because they use their resources to get results—they’re bending the trend of youth drug use.”

The Ventura County Office of Education provides a broad array of fiscal, training and technology support services to local school districts, helping to maintain and improve lifelong educational opportunities for children, educators and community members. VCOE also operates schools that serve students with severe disabilities and behavioral issues, provides career education courses, and coordinates countywide academic competitions including Mock Trial and the Ventura County Science Fair. Learn more at:

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