Substance abuse prevention was in the spotlight once again Wednesday as the Blount County Substance Abuse Prevention Action Team (SAPAT) capped off a big year of drug- and alcohol-abuse prevention advocacy in our community by announcing the winners of the 2015 Substance Abuse Prevention Excellence Awards.
These awards highlight individuals and groups from the community for their hard work to prevent substance abuse in our area.
- Alcoa High School senior Elizabeth Boyd received the Student Prevention Leadership Award for her outstanding dedication, prevention efforts, and commitment to involving her peers, school staff and community members in prevention. Boyd also works on preventing factors that go hand-in-hand with and affect substance abuse, such as stress reduction, teen dating violence and overall healthcare by coordinating stress-reducing, teen dating violence prevention and substance abuse prevention activities in her school. Additionally, Boyd was prominently featured in the 2015 “Take A Stance” campaign, appearing at press conferences, award ceremonies, and on billboards and promotional materials.
- Webster Bailey from Cornerstone of Recovery and Blount County Government each was presented a Prevention Champion Award. Bailey was recognized for his passion for prevention, intervention, treatment and recovery, as well as his work with SAPAT as a leader and go-to for substance abuse-related resources. Blount County mayor Ed Mitchell accepted the award on behalf of Blount County Government for its role in creating and supporting the Blount County Recovery Court (formerly known as the Blount County Drug Court). Many members of county government, including various departments and elected officials have worked hard to make this program a success.
- Pharmacist Phil LaFoy from Blount Discount Pharmacy received the Prevention Innovation Award for the countless hours he’s dedicated to substance abuse prevention in our community, including taking part in numerous meetings, events and community activities. His role as a pharmacist makes LaFoy a valuable resource on prescription drug abuse prevention, and he also recently aided local law enforcement agencies in the acquisition of Naloxone, which can reverse opioid overdoses.
- Senator Doug Overbey was presented the Lifetime Achievement Award for his decades of invaluable contributions to reducing substance abuse in our community and our state. Senator Overbey has been a constant presence at SAPAT events, and acts as an important advocate in relating the seriousness of their cause to the community. He also has supported and created pieces of anti-drug- and anti-substance-abuse legislation that further prevention efforts statewide.
"I am honored to be the recipient the 2015 Lifetime Prevention Award,” Overbey said. “I know there are a lot of people in our community working and partnering with SAPAT who are really making a difference in the war against drug abuse, and I'm humbled to be recognized as a part of their efforts. I would also like to congratulate the other recipients of today's prevention awards, as we all continue to work together to make Blount County a safer and healthier place to live. In my work in Nashville representing the people of this district, I'm glad that I can call on SAPAT as a resource when I have questions regarding substance abuse issues," he added.
“This has been an amazing year for SAPAT,” said Blount Memorial Foundation and Community Outreach project manager Jessica Belitz. “We kicked off an incredible community-wide campaign this year, and "Take A Stance" now can be seen nearly everywhere you look. Through our many programs and initiatives, we have been fortunate to reach thousands of people in our community with our youth substance abuse prevention messages. We couldn’t have done any of this without the support of today’s award winners, who work tirelessly every day to help make Blount County a safer place to live,” she added.
“To have a program like this in Blount County, it takes folks from all walks – the medical field, law enforcement and the business world – working together,” said pharmacist Phil LaFoy from Blount Discount Pharmacy. “You tear down barriers and come together for a common cause, which speaks well for our community because we watch out for one another. That’s what this is about – a sense of community and taking care of each other,” he added.
The Substance Abuse Prevention Action Team is designed to address the challenge of reducing and preventing drug abuse and underage alcohol and tobacco use by partnering with local agencies, including schools and law enforcement, to provide educational opportunities, advocate policy change and enforcement, and promote prevention activities.
For more information about SAPAT including how to join in their efforts, contact Jessica Belitz at 865-977-5745.