Last week, Mineral County residents received a new magazine in their mailbox called YC, Youth Connections. It was filled with articles for kids like “The Secret to Successful Kids” and “The 40 Developmental Assets: Positive Identity.”
“The content centers around evidenced-based social and emotional learning, which is backed up by research,” said the magazine’s director, Stephanie Quick.
Quick works as a prevention specialists in Mineral County for Western Montana Addition Services, based out of Missoula, and feels the magazine will help to build up the positive side of our local communities.
She is also an integral member of the Healthy Communities Coalition (HCC), which is a group comprised of providers, community members and prevention specialist in Mineral County. They focus their efforts on area youth and their families. Early on the group identified the top four problems communities faced, which included substance use and abuse; child abuse and neglect; unemployment; and obesity.
“There’s a lot of negativity out there — that we’re rural, we don’t have adequate resources, there’s a lot of poverty and our kids are struggling,” she said. “I wanted this (magazine) to be positive and show that we have great community members who are invested in our children.”
For example, there’s a group in Superior raising funds for a new community swim pool to make sure the area youth have something to do outside of school. The magazine will highlight these types of local efforts plus offer information and education.
The HCC had discussed other ways of getting information out into the community, including the use of social media like Facebook, plus newsletters and direct mail, “but they haven’t necessarily been effective,” she said.
That’s what prompted Quick to try the magazine and see what happens. She contracted for two issues of the magazine, which is put together by Youth Connections based out of Helena, Mont. They compile the majority of the content and provide some photos. The rest is comprised of local content and photos to highlight what is happening in local communities.
Quick said there are a number of articles available online that she can go through and pull for each issue, depending on the area of focus. It is produced quarterly and the next issue is due out at the end of October.
Grant funds have been used to produce the first two issues. Quick offered free advertising for local businesses and organizations, and so they could see how the magazine looked after it was produced.
“There was a lot of reluctance to put advertisements into something they haven’t seen yet,” she said. “It’s easier to get their ads in now and get the magazine circulating. Then we can make sure they are OK with the content and how it looks.”
In the future, they will charge for advertising and hope to use the funds to help stabilize the HCC. The group wants to form their own non-profit status and are looking for ways to make it self-sustaining. Currently, the group relies heavily on grant funding.
The magazines were mailed to all county residents, plus distributed to local businesses and schools with a circulation of approximately 5,000. It is just another tool in the HCC’s toolbox to continue efforts to identify problems and increase awareness regarding health-related issues in Mineral County.
“Prevention is a multilayered approach to change.
It takes collaboration with key stakeholders, local agencies and programs, and youth engagement. The changes can be slow, incremental steps. However, over time, it can have lasting effects that enhance communities and strengthen families,” according to a statement in the magazine.
YC provides the bulk of the content; however, people are welcome to contribute the magazine. They can send information to Quick by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.