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Saturday, October 16, 2021

Letter: Introducing the Social Change Program at Umbrella by Savannah Williams, Allyson Howell, and Amanda Cochrane

Hello, my name is Savannah Williams. I’m the Social Change Program Manager at The Advocacy Program of Umbrella. I have worked with Umbrella as a Youth Advocate for the last ten years.

Hi! My name is Ally Howell. I’m the Prevention Specialist at Umbrella as of July 1st, 2020, and have worked in tobacco and other substance use and misuse prevention for the last 4 years in Orleans and northern Essex counties.

We wanted to take this opportunity to share a little bit about Umbrella and what’s to come.

Umbrella’s mission is to cultivate a Northeast Kingdom where all people thrive, free from abuse and oppression.

The Social Change program focuses on prevention education and initiatives in schools and in the community that aim towards preventing gender-based violence and other harms including substance misuse and tobacco use.

Strategies include providing evidence-based curricula to youth, parents, and community professionals as well as youth leadership programming.

From Amanda Cochrane, Umbrella’s ED.

Umbrella has delivered prevention programming in the NEK for decades. We have focussed on the prevention of domestic violence, dating violence, sexual violence, and stalking.

This prevention work has taken place throughout the NEK – In 2019, we reached over three thousand youth throughout 23 schools as well as 330 adults.

Over the past several years we have participated in regional coalitions addressing substance misuse and tobacco use because we, along with our partners, understand the deep connection between substance use disorder for example, and experiences of gender-based violence.

Substance use disorder has been found to occur in 40-60 percent of intimate partner violence incidences according to several studies.

Further, many of the risk factors of experiencing or perpetrating gender-based violence align with risk factors for substance abuse disorder and early tobacco use.

To us, it is a no-brainer to connect these dots and expand what Umbrella views as “prevention” so that we can work in better concert with our partners to mitigate risk factors and build protective factors among the youth with whom we work.

With gratitude, Savannah Williams, Social Change Program Manager Allyson Howell, Prevention Specialist, Amanda Cochrane, Umbrella’s ED.

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