Community Invited to Hear Top Experts on Current Topics
Northland Coalition to Host First Ever Virtual Prevention Conference

Release Contact: Sher Wilde • (816) 807-5030

Conference Contact:
Emily Barnes
Tri-County Mental Health Services

Community Invited to Hear Top Experts on Current Topics

Northland Coalition to Host First Ever Virtual Prevention Conference    

The dedicated prevention volunteers of the Northland Coalition, with the support of Tri-County Mental Health Services (TCMHS,) will host their first-ever virtual prevention conference March 5. “Recharge 2021,” which will be held from 9:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m., will feature nationally and internationally renowned presenters. The presentations and workshops will address issues such as redefining leadership in this challenging time; how to help youth  healthfully navigate today’s digital technology;  and how to maintain resilience in the midst of  the isolation and grief brought on by the COVID pandemic.
The $25 registration fee will include the conference platform, live presentations and recordings following the event as they are available. More information about the event and speakers and the registration form are available at (Upcoming Events; Conference website.)
9:00 a.m.: The welcome and brief award ceremony will be moderated by Northland Coalition President Jamie Parrett.

9:30 a.m-10:20 a.m..: Keynote: “Redefine Leadership: What Happens Next is Up to You!” Presented by Gina Maree and Tonja Speer from Innovative Leadership Strategies, LLC

10:30 a.m.-11:20 a.m. Keynote: “Changing the Conversation: The Role of Prevention, Treatment, Recovery and Inequity in a Time of National Crisis”
Presented by Carlton Hall from Carlton Hall Consulting

(Lunch Break 11:30 a.m.-12:20 p.m.)


12:30 p.m.-1:20 p.m.

Embracing the Faith Community as a Vital Partner for Prevention

 Drew Brooks, Executive Director of Faith Partners

Grief During COVID

            Clara Anderson Sainte, Program Director of Gilda’s Club Kansas City

Screen Sanity

            Tracy Foster, Executive Director, S.T.A.R.T., promoting digital health


1:30 p.m.-2:20 p.m.

Resilience Practices: Try This!

            Marsha Morgan, President-Founder Resilience Builders

Youth Perspective of Prevention

            Morgan Neal, young prevention advocate and former member of Youth With Vision

Marijuana Liberalization: The Public Health Perspective

            Sharif Mohr, Epidemiologist, Drug Free America Foundation

The conference will conclude at 3:00 p.m.

The Northland Coalition is committed to fighting the devastation effects of alcohol and drug use among youth in the Northland communities. Funding and support for the coalition are provided by TCMHS, the Division of Behavioral Health, United Way, Clay County Children Services Fund and the Clay, Platte, Ray Mental Health Tax Levy Board.

Event facilitator Emily Barnes can be contacted at or (816) 468-0400, Ext. 383.

Community Coalitions Launch Text-based Program
To Help Northland Youth Quit Vaping

Program Contact:
Laura Bruce
Tri-County Services Prevention

Community Coalitions Launch Text-based Program to Help Northland Youth Quit Vaping

The Northland Coalition, Youth with Vision, and community prevention coalitions from across Clay, Platte and Ray counties, have joined together to offer a free, anonymous, text-based program designed to help youth quit using e-cigarette vaping devices.
This is Quitting” is a nation-wide program sponsored by the Truth Initiative that offers 13- to 24- year- old youths an anonymous, personalized way to give up the habit of vaping,” Emily Barnes said. Barnes is a community prevention specialist for Tri-County Mental Health Services.
“As youth vaping continues to be a nationwide and local concern, it’s imperative that we do everything we can to increase access to nicotine cessation for youth,” Barnes said.
The website for the Truth Initiative, which also offers programs for adults, explains that while e-cigarette use is often called vaping, it is actually an aerosol containing tiny chemical particles that is delivered through the device. They further report that there is evidence suggesting these particles lead to cardiovascular injury as well as  negative effects on resting heart rate, blood pressure and the cells that line the blood vessels.
Barnes said that when a recent Missouri Student Survey indicated that as many as 15 percent of Missouri youth in sixth through 12th grade have reported vaping in the last 30 days, community coalitions throughout the Northland realized the importance of taking action to provide cessation help. 
“Vaping is highly addictive, and many young people have trouble stopping once they have started. We realize that part of preventing youth from vaping is helping those who are already vaping to stop. This will not only help the health of those who vape, but also reduce the availability and social acceptability of vapes to other youth.” Barnes says. 
Barnes explained when a community decides to join the national program, they create a keyword specific to their region to text to an established number.
“We worked with our youth prevention advocacy council Youth With Vision to develop our keyword,” Barnes said.  Across the Northland, a youth wishing to connect with the cessation program texts the word BREAKFREE to 88709.  “It’s all handled anonymously, so the teen can be assured of privacy.”
Barnes explained that when the teen contacts the program, he or she will receive some simple questions to determine age and other responses to help the program design some specific, age-appropriate, individualized quitting tips.
“Then the young person will receive a tip a day for 12 weeks to help them meet the challenge of walking away from vaping,” Barnes said.
Barnes said statistics from the Truth Initiative reflect that after two weeks 45% of participants have reported a decrease in use of vaping devices, with about 22% stating they have totally eliminated their use.
“We are so excited to be able to give our young people this cessation tool to help them in their efforts to quit this dangerous habit,” Barnes said.
Barnes said the coalitions have marketing tools including posters, palm cards and flyers available to schools and businesses in the community that would like to help promote the program to youth.
Truth Initiative is a nonprofit public health organization that engages in research and policy studies to create and implement successful campaigns in communities across the country to eliminate tobacco use and nicotine addiction.
More information about the program and contact information for the community coalitions involved can be found at  Marketing tools to promote the program can be acquired by contacting the program directors for the various participating coalitions or Barnes at 

Take Note!

On December 20, 2019, a large spending bill that included a provision to raise the minimum legal sales age for all tobacco products from 18 to 21 nationwide, was signed into law.

Highlights include:

  • It is now a violation of federal law for any retailer to sell any nicotine or tobacco products to anyone under the age of 21.
  • FDA will oversee enforcement of the minimum legal sales age at 21.
  • The law does not phase-in age restrictions (i.e., there is no “grandfathering”) of those who are currently 18, 19, or 20.
  • The law penalizes retailers for selling tobacco products to youth, not those attempting to purchase, although many states and cities retain purchase, use and possession (PUP) laws.

Find the full bill and more information regarding Federal Tobacco 21 here.