NRPA recognizes the impact substance misuse has on local park and recreation agencies and their communities. To address this issue, we are supporting local agencies in their efforts to pilot a mentorship program for youth impacted by the opioid epidemic in rural central Appalachia. From 2018 to 2021, NRPA is working with five communities to develop and implement a sustainable mentoring program targeting at-risk youth living in rural communities. Funding for this program (grant # 2018-JU-FX-0036) is provided by the Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention (OJJDP), a component of the Office of Justice Programs, U.S. Department of Justice.

Youth Mentoring Grantee Profiles

NRPA used the Opioid Misuse Community Assessment Tool to select five grantees to receive funding for the development, implementation and support of a youth mentorship program. Grantees were selected based on demographic factors including population size, location, opioid overdose mortality rate, poverty and education level, and employment rate.

The 2018–2021 grantees are:

  • Steubenville, Ohio
  • Middlesboro, Kentucky
  • Elizabethton, Tennessee
  • Mount Airy, North Carolina
  • Danville, Virginia

Learn more about the grantees.

Project Timeline Goals

Year 1 Year 2 and 3 Year 3
Research and develop a targeted and innovative mentoring program for rural youth in central Appalachia who have exhibited and are at-risk for opioid misuse. Pilot mentoring program to provide direct one-on-one and group mentoring services in rural areas to 100 high-risk youth. Use program learnings to build the capacity of 500 park and recreation professionals to implement mentoring program for additional high-risk youth in rural areas.
  • Mentoring program for youth impacted by opioids.
  • Best practices resource guide.
  • Final report of program impact.
  • Related learning opportunities for park and recreation professionals

Program Goals

  • Five park and recreation agencies will implement innovative and effective mentoring practices for at-risk youth
  • Provide direct one on-one and group mentoring services to 100 rural youth in central Appalachia who have exhibited and are at-risk for opioid misuse
  • Grantee park and recreation professionals will sustain youth opioid mentorship programs in their agencies
  • Build the capacity for more than 500 park and recreation agencies to implement and sustain a youth mentorship program

In November 2019, NRPA held an in-person training for the five grantee communities. The training including opportunities for grantees to learn about mentoring best practices, familiarize themselves with the Youth Mentoring Framework, and learn more about the factors contributing to the opioid crisis in rural, central Appalachia over time. Grantees also received training on trauma-informed care, adverse childhood experiences and heard directly from individuals recovering from substance use disorder. Key themes, findings and stories are highlighted in the training summary report.

Download the Training Summary Report

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