The mission of the Rockwood Drug-Free Coalition (DFC)
is to provide "leadership, education and resources to prevent and address substance abuse." Lili Schliesser, who is entering her first year as the coalition's project coordinator, says some of the most meaningful conversations surrounding prevention and treatment start in schools.
"It's important that teachers are spreading the message because teachers have a huge impact," Schliesser said. "Everybody in the coalition is important, whether they're in the community, law enforcement or in the classroom."
DFC membership is composed of representatives from law enforcement, community prevention and treatment resources, parents, teachers, counselors and staff. The group meets on the second Thursday
of each month at LaSalle Springs Middle School
and is led by an eight-person executive committee. New members are always welcome.
Schliesser has worked with similar coalitions, and she ran a grant program in Jefferson County focused on underage drinking. She spent the past four years as the director of public relations for the Valley Park School District, and she strongly believes in the power students have to form their own narratives about substance abuse.
"I'm a huge proponent of young people creating their own messages," Schliesser said. "It really reinforces the decisions that they will make going forward."
The DFC is currently funded by a federal Drug-Free Communities grant from the Office of National Drug Control Policy, which runs through Sept. 30. As a result, Schliesser's first order of business is spearheading the creation of a new strategic plan to guide the coalition's future. The top priority is creating new – and bolstering current – initiatives surrounding prevention.
"It's knowing what the risks are and the conversations parents can have to reduce the likelihood of abusing drugs and alcohol," Schliesser said. "Rockwood School District believes in treating students as whole persons. I will be a part of that mission."