DAWN K. SHANNON /Program Coordinator of C.H.O.I.C.E., Inc.
Dawn Shannon a native Louisvillian and a DuPont Manual High School Graduate, class of 2005. She is a highly motivated, enthusiastic, persistent, goal-oriented leader. Ms. Shannon functioned as teen volunteer for C.H.O.I.C.E. during her time in high school conducting self-esteem and self-image workshops for female elementary and middle school aged program participants. Ms. Shannon has acquired knowledge in areas of Social Work Administration, Child Welfare/Parenting, School Social Worker, Mentoring, At-Risk Youth and Leadership through her education and work experiences. With her passion to understand and help her community she matriculated at Huston-Tilloston University, Austin, Texas, and received her B.A. is Sociology with a minor in Pre-Law in 2009.
Founded in 1987, C.H.O.I.C.E. Inc. is a comprehensive, nonprofit, community-based prevention and early intervention program designed to steer high risk/at risk youth and adolescents into making more positive life choices.
The C.H.O.I.C.E. Program is directed toward young people, 3rd through 12th grade, from mixed social-economic and ethnic backgrounds not yet chemically dependent. All services are provided during school hours. The overall goal of the program is to assist young people in joining together to enhance their ability to make positive choices, increase their sense of self-regard, decreased the incidence of ATOD (alcohol, tobacco and other drugs) use and other unhealthy risk behaviors. This is accomplished through a 28-week two-tiered program comprised of prevention education and bolstering resiliency factors within the young person. Services offered by C.H.O.I.C.E. Inc. are provided to young people who reside in Metro Louisville /Jefferson County (KY) communities and who are not yet chemically dependent.
C.H.O.I.C.E. Inc. is governed by a board of directors and is operated by licensed and certified professionals. C.H.O.I.C.E. Inc. is licensed by the Commonwealth of Kentucky as an alcohol and other drug prevention program, and is incorporated under the name of, Children Have Options In Choosing Experiences. C.H.O.I.C.E. Inc. has a registered logo and a nonprofit tax status (501 (c) (3).
C.H.O.I.C.E provides group counseling and mentoring services. Individual service is provided as well. Certified and licensed professionals facilitate groups. The format of these groups has evolved from a model developed by C.H.O.I.C.E. staff to address the specific needs of young people. This model and subsequent training manual, The C.H.O.I.C.E. High Risk Prevention Intervention Manual (Bemker & Sias-Shannon, 2002) provides the foundation for the program offered. Each group is held one class period per week for 28 weeks.
MISSION & PHILOSOPHY
C.H.O.I.C.E. Inc.'s purpose is to provide the needed services that will allow youths and adolescents to reach their maximum potential via a positive, healthy drug-free lifestyle.
C.H.O.I.C.E. Inc. believes that the incidence of substance abuse, violence, and negative behaviors will decrease among young people if they have a greater degree of self-esteem and the ability to cope with life’s challenges. In order to achieve this goal, students need to have current information and education about drug abuse and dependency and its effect on interpersonal skills.
In October 1987 the Buechel Area Neighborhoods Association (BANA) received a three-year Federal Demonstration Grant from the Office of Substance Abuse Prevention to design and implement community-based youth alcohol and drug prevention programs. These programs were aimed at youth aged 9-19 years who are not yet chemically dependent, but are at “high-risk” for engaging in risky behavior such as substance abuse and violence . The grant’s “target areas” were the Buechel and Newburg areas of Southeastern Jefferson County, Kentucky. Since then, C.H.O.I.C.E. has served every corner of the Metro-Louisville community.
The name of "Children Have Options in Choosing Experiences" was chosen to describe the youth development prevention/intervention philosophy of programs to be provided. In March 1988, BANA incorporated Children Have Options In Choosing Experiences, Inc. (C.H.O.I.C.E., Inc.) as 501 (C)(3). agency.
The concept of C.H.O.I.C.E. encompasses both the individual and the community. It is necessary for the community leaders to stimulate young people to find alternative recreational, educational and social activities, that are both attractive and meaningful. All services were provided to young people through resources from the community. The community provided the means through which young people could then select, plan and carry out challenging and rewarding relationships.
The first C.H.O.I.C.E. program was developed and implemented in the Buechel Metropolitan School, during school hours, beginning in January 1988. This school is an alternative school in the Jefferson County Public School System. The school’s average number of students is approximately 250. In the 1988-89 school year- three (3) Self-Help groups of 8-10 students (per group) were formed and met once each week.
LIZ SIAS-SHANNON / Executive Director of C.H.O.I.C.E., Inc.