Freda Colley may be a relatively new Informed Families Ambassador, but she is no stranger to prevention. Colley, a Certified Prevention Specialist and the Northeast Florida Coordinator for Keep Kids Drug Free (KKDF), has been dedicating her time and talent to preventing youth substance abuse for 18 years.
Colley, an employee of Gateway Community Services, works to help students grow up safe, healthy and drug free through Informed Families’ four campaigns and several other initiatives. She learned about the ambassador program through a colleague, Vicki Kress from SMA Behavioral Health.
In her role with KKDF, she manages evidence-based prevention programs. This year, she incorporated Red Ribbon Week into her efforts for the first time and it was a huge success.
"I had connections in the community for working in prevention for so long," said Colley. "I contacted a local school, Chimney Lakes Elementary, with a strong PTA and parent base. We made sure to do something each day for the whole week, starting with an assembly with the students letting them know what and why we were doing. We focused on creating awareness that if you want to be an athlete, a singer, for example, or have success, drugs cannot be a part of your life. Students got involved and helped us by coming up with some ideas."
One particular success arising from the campaign was Colley's ability to reach parents with the drug prevention message. A total of 200 signed parent pledges were collected by the end of the week. While many children and teens are positively impacted by her programs directly, Colley, much like Informed Families, believes it is just as important to directly each their parents.