Initiatives

1. Youth Mental Wellness

Important mental health habits—including coping, resilience, and good judgment—help adolescents to achieve overall well-being and set the stage for positive mental health in adulthood. Mood swings are common during adolescence. However, research suggests one in five adolescents will suffer from a mental health disorder, such as depression, anxiety, substance use, or eating disorders. The goal of Tonka CARES is to build partnerships, increase education and awareness, and improve accessibility to resources surrounding mental wellness among youth in our community.

2. Opioids

As the both the nation and our community face the opioid epidemic, Tonka CARES is committed to changing the conversation and the outcome of opioid misuse and addiction in our community. Improving education and awareness, supporting appropriate medicinal use of prescribed medications, diminishing access, supporting early intervention, and medication assisted treatment, Tonka CARES is focused on improving prevention and to breaking down stigma and removing barriers for treatment of this deadly and preventable disease.

3. Tobacco, Vaping, & E-cigarettes

Tonka CARES is committed to addressing the increasing prevalence of e.cigarette use among youth in our community. Youth tobacco use rose for the first time in 17 years in the state of Minnesota during the 2017 year as a result of e.cigarette/vape use. With 95% of adult smokers, having started before the age of 21, it is essential we improve strategies to prevent this growing trend. Supporting policies like Tobacco 21, restricting the sale of flavored products, and increasing the price of tobacco products, is important in the fight against this growing trend.

4. Marijuana

Despite the fact that research supports that marijuana is a gateway drug, and that use in adolescents can result in diminished IQ, increased susceptibility of mental health issues, and increased prevalence of substance use disorders later in life, many states are adopting laws for the legalization of this harmful product. Tonka CARES is committed to addressing the perception of marijuana harms by providing accurate, data-driven research about the use of marijuana and its associations with mental health and substance use disorders.

5. Alcohol

While alcohol use rates have been on the decline, this substance is still one of the most widely used of all chemicals among youth. Acute binge drinking, daily misuse, and risky behaviors including drinking and driving and unprotected sex, allow this chemical to negatively impact the lives of millions each year. Addressing issues surrounding accessibility, social host ordinance, and improved awareness/education, are key goals to improving this ongoing, and detrimental problem.

Happy studets standing in the High School Commons

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Kim Oelhafen
Project Director
kimberly.oelhafen@minnetonkaschools.org
952-401-5056 (desk)