Led by the City of Rochester’s Bureau of Recreation, Youth Voice One Vision and the Metro Council for Teen Potential, The HEART Coalition for a Drug Free Rochester works to reduce substance abuse among youth and families by increasing the external and internal assets that youth need to make healthy choices. The HEART Coalition brings together a diverse group of community organizations, youth leaders, schools, parents, faith groups and business under the leadership of the City of Rochester.
The name HEART was chosen to reflect hopes for Rochester: Health, Excellence, Achievement, Responsibility and Truth. The HEART Coalition engages youth leaders in all aspects of its work. Representatives of Youth Voice, One Vision participate in HEART by representing HEART in the community, helping to analyze community needs, and developing and implementing strategies.
Center for Public Safety Initiatives at RIT
City of Rochester- Department of Recreation and Youth Services
City of Rochester- South East Neighborhood Service Center
Drug Enforcement Administration
Metro Council for Teen Potential
National Council on Alcoholism and Drug Dependence- Rochester Area
Rochester City School District- Health Teachers
Rochester Community Television
Smoking Health and Action Coalition of Monroe County
Youth Voice, One Vision
Youth Assets and Risky Behaviors- Taking our Pulse
HEART uses the 40 Developmental Assets developed by the Search Institute as the framework for all of its initiatives. Research has shown that the more assets that a young person has in their life, the less likely they are to engage in any form of substance abuse. To find out more about the power of assets, and how they support healthy youth development in several areas, click here. And find out how many asset the young people in your life have, by encouraging them to fill out this check list and then reviewing the results together.
The HEART Coalition also informs the community about youth risk-taking behaviors by sharing the results of the Youth Risk Behavior Survey. The Youth Risk Behavior Survey (YRBS) is a national survey that was developed by the Center for Disease Control and is administered bi-annual by the Rochester City School District. The YRBS monitors the behaviors of Rochester high school students that put individual and community health at risk such as violence, tobacco, alcohol and other drug use, unhealthy sexual behavior, physical inactivity and unhealthy diets. Student participation in the survey is voluntary and anonymous.
A report of Rochester City School District’s 2011 YRBS was completed by the Monroe County Department of Public Health, and Metro Council for Teen Potential created a comparative chart of Rochester YRBS results from 2003-2011.
All of HEART’s projects and initiatives would not be possible without youth voice and leadership. Our strategies and initiatives include:
Encouraging Youth Voice and Youth Leadership
The HEART Coalition believes that youth have a critical role in improving our schools and neighborhoods. HEART knows that when the perspective, knowledge, and passion of youth are utilized good things happen. HEART supports youth leadership groups throughout Rochester that can be found in school settings, at Recreation Centers, and at other community tables. Each year, the HEART Coalition compiles the Rochester Youth Leadership Guide, found here. The guide lists active youth leadership groups, focusing on the purpose of each group, the assets each brings to its members and the community, and the name and school attended by each of the group’s members. We encourage schools and community leaders to use this guide to identify youth leaders already active in your community. We also encourage youth group coordinators to contact us in order to have your youth group listed.
Focusing on Strengths
HEART’s current “Ride Our Wave” poster campaign, designed by city youth, highlights the fact that most youth in Rochester are responsible and motivated citizens doing good things for both themselves and their community. According to researcher Wesley Perkins, PhD, youth peer norms are one of the strongest influences on youth behaviors. In other words, when youth understand that most of their peers don't engage in problem behaviors, youth behave with more restraint. All of the "Ride Our Wave" designs feature statistics from the 2011 Rochester City School District’s Youth Risk Behavior Survey that show that majority of Rochester’s youth are doing the right thing.
HEART’s Positive Tickets initiative also promotes and celebrates positive behaviors. Youth give back to their community by handing out tickets to people “caught doing something good.” Youth and adults take the time to look for individuals and groups taking care of families and friends, solving problems, and strengthening their neighborhoods.
Life Skills and Employment for Youth
HEART members teach life skills to children and families. HEART members work with RCSD and charter schools to engage high school students in evidence-based curricula, including "Making A Difference and Making Proud Choices" curricula.
HEART members present the four session "Family Talk" workshop series to over 100 parents each year. This engaging and interactive workshop series supports parents in better communicating with their children about healthy sexuality and healthy behaviors; the workshop series is delivered at no charge at schools, churches and neighborhood sites.
HEART provides employment opportunities to youth. Each summer HEART hires Youth Voice, One Vision officers, ages 14-20, to work up to 10 hours per week to spread the message of healthy lifestyles and youth leadership.
Strengthening Youth/Adult Relationships and Inclusive School Communities
The HEART Coalition recognizes that positive youth/adult relationships are an essential to successful academics and inviting, safe school environments. To help support positive cross-generational relationships, HEART sponsors the Outstanding HEART awards each spring. RCSD middle schools students, high school students and students from charter schools nominate teachers, counselors, librarians and school staff members who consistently listen and support them and their peers, and help to promote a positive school environment. Approximately, 75 adults are recognized with the Outstanding HEART awards each year, and are presented at HEART’s Real Truth About City Youth Celebration. A list of previous winners of the Outstanding HEART Award can be viewed here: 2010-2012 Winners; 2013 Winners