Steele County United Way Executive Director Kim Schaufenbuel shared some local success stories in Washington, D.C., on December 5.

She made her presentation at a training session for the Drug Free Communities New Grantee program. Shaufenbuel reported on several areas of success for the Steele County Safe and Drug Free Coalition during its five years of federal funding through the program.

According to a news release from the United Way of Steele County, a social host ordinance has passed in Owatonna and Blooming Prairie. Drug disposal boxes have been installed in Blooming Prairie and Owatonna. An alcohol prevention curriculum is being used in those two school districts in grades 6-8. The Life of an Athlete series has been implemented in the Owatonna district. Tobacco-free park laws are in effect in Medford and Blooming Prairie. And the Steele County Free Fair has limited smoking to designated areas.

The Safe and Drug Free Coalition came into existence in early 2009 in the county over concerns about the level of student drug use and alcohol use based on student surveys. The news release indicates ninth-grade levels of smoking have dropped from 10.2 percent in 2010 to 2.3 percent in 2016, alcohol use is down from 17.9 percent to 9.3 percent and marijuana use is down from 6.8 percent to 4.9 percent.

Schaufenbuel states, "United Way of Steele County is thankful for the work the Safe and Drug Free Coalition is doing on behalf of the youth of our community. They are helping serve a vital part of our mission in giving our children the opportunity to live successful, healthy lives and in the process building a strong local workforce in our future." The training session in Washington was attended by about 200 people representing more than 100 drug free coalitions from around the country.