What is the BWC?
What is the Belmont Wellness Coalition (BWC)?
The BWC is a non-profit community organization comprised of a committed cross-section of individuals who care deeply about the residents of Belmont, particularly its youth. It is a program of Wayside Youth & Family Support Network.
The BWC uses education and empowerment to prevent and reduce substance misuse, and to promote healthy choices and positive decision-making, among Belmont youth. The BWC consists of partners from town agencies (School, Library, Police, Fire, Belmont Against Racism, etc), committed parents and clergy, and most recently Belmont High School students through the Student Ambassador Program. These students work with the Coalition to implement town-wide prevention strategies that reduce youth use of alcohol, marijuana, and other drugs.
The BWC is also committed to the goals of its sponsor, Wayside Youth & Family Support Network. These include addressing racism, inequity, and unjust treatment – problems which can heighten the risk of mental health disorders and substance misuse in youth. In support of our efforts to reduce youth substance misuse, we work to strengthen the knowledge of community members and challenge the ideas and systems that perpetuate these negative practices and consequences.
“The mission of the Belmont Wellness Coalition is to educate, empower, and support youth as they navigate the complexities of their social, physical, and virtual environments. Our purpose is to encourage and instill positive decision making within our youth community by closely collaborating with students, parents, schools, and town leadership. Through these community partnerships and conversations, our hope is to reduce substance misuse and discover outreach strategies that promote healthy choices for students in Belmont.”
What is a Community Coalition?
The Community Anti-Drug Coalitions of America (CADCA) descibes a community coalition as follows:
“[A Community Coalition is a] formal arrangement for collaboration among groups or sectors of a community, in which each group retains its identity but all agree to work together toward the common goal of a safe, healthy and drug-free community. Coalitions should have deep connections to the local community and serve as catalysts for reducing local substance abuse rates. As such, community coalitions are not prevention programs or traditional human service organizations that provide direct services, rather they are directed by local residents and sector representatives who have a genuine voice in determining the best strategies to address local problems.”
How is BWC funded?
The BWC is primarily funded through a Federal grant, plus community donations. In the fall of 2018, the BWC was awarded a five-year Drug Free Communities (DFC) grant from the White House’s Office of National Drug Control Policy (ONDCP). The grant is formally administered through Wayside Youth & Family Support Network.
“This funding is a recognition by the federal government that Belmont, through the establishment of the Belmont Wellness Coalition, is poised to roll up its sleeves and continue the work of reducing youth substance misuse through collaborative community efforts,” said Lisa Gibalerio, MPH, BWC’s Program Coordinator.
How often does the BWC meet?
The BWC meets about once a month, currently on Zoom.
How can you learn more?
For more information, please contact Lisa Gibalerio at lisa_gibalerio@WaysideYouth.org.