American Fork graduation walk 05

Graduating seniors and their families prepare for their turn to participate in American Fork High School’s walk-thru diploma ceremony Wednesday, May 27, 2020. Isaac Hale, Daily Herald

The American Fork City Council on Tuesday approved a contract between the city and Utah County for a “Communities That Care” prevention campaign “to help the strengthening of families, and crime and drug use prevention.”

As part of the contract, the American Fork Police Department will receive a $100,000 grant from the county to “reduce substance abuse, specifically vaping, among students,” according to the agreement approved Tuesday.

The American Fork Police Department also will implement a “Guiding Good Choices” program, a five-week workshop described as “an appropriate intervention for any family of a student who has not yet initiated substance abuse,” as well as a “Project Towards No Drug Abuse” prevention program in secondary schools.

Additionally, the Police Department will “install 47 vape and smoke sensors in the bathrooms and locker rooms of the three secondary schools in American Fork” by December, according to the contract.

Among the short-term objectives of the prevention campaign are to “decrease parental attitudes favorable to antisocial behavior by 2% from 2019 to 2021” and to “decrease depressive symptoms among American Fork youth by 1%” in the same time period.

The long-term objective is to reduce the 30-day vaping rate among American Fork youth by 2% between 2021 and 2023.

“Among all substances used by American Fork youth, vaping rates are the highest, and we want to curb this before it gets even higher,” the proposal stated.

Of American Fork students who have ever tried a tobacco product, 78.4% of them started with a vape product, according to the proposal, which cited a 2019 survey conducted by the Utah Division of Substance Abuse and Mental Health.

Approximately 16% of American Fork 10th graders and 12th graders have tried vape products, and 8.5% of 10th graders and 8.3% of 12th graders have vaped in the last 30 days.

The principals of American Fork High School, American Fork Junior High School and Polaris West High School all wrote letters in support of the efforts “to reduce substance abuse by students” at the schools.

“We have worked together with the American Fork Police Department for some time in an already-existing partnership to establish a positive law enforcement presence in the schools,” the principals wrote on Sept. 29 in separate letters. “We are excited for the potential opportunity to deploy additional programs to reduce substance abuse by our students, and will fully support their implementation.”

American Fork officials expressed support for the campaign and gratitude for the grant during Tuesday’s City Council meeting, including Mayor Brad Frost.

“We don’t see $100,000 coming our way very often from the county, and I think this will be money well spent within our community,” Frost said.

“I think it looks like a very good program,” echoed Councilmember Kevin Barnes. “And if it achieves half of the success that it looks like it could, it’ll still be a big success in my mind.”

The American Fork City Council approved the contract 3-0 on Tuesday. Councilmembers Barbara Christiansen and Rob Shelton were absent.

A number of other Utah County cities have worked with Communities That Care, an international program aimed at preventing youth behavioral problems and drug abuse, including Provo, Payson, Santaquin, Saratoga Springs, Eagle Mountain, Genola and Goshen.

Connor Richards covers government, the environment and south Utah County for the Daily Herald. He can be reached at crichards@heraldextra.com and 801-344-2599.

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