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. Groups are facilitated by certified and licensed professionals. 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 & PHILOPSHY
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 behvaior 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.
Liz Sias-Shannon has been with the organization since its inception 1987. Mrs. Sias-Shannon has extensive experience counseling youth/adolescents and has been a clinical services coordinator at an outpatient drug treatment facility for adults in Harvey, IL. and a counseling supervisor at an all female Job Corp Center in Atlanta GA. She also conducts various alcohol, tobacco, and other drug/family issues workshops locally, statewide and nationally. Mrs. Sias-Shannon co-created a high school athletic prevention leadership and mentoring program that has been successful for 20 years.
Mrs. Sias-Shannon is an Internationally Certified Alcohol and Drug Counselor, Licensed Alcohol and Drug Counselor (KY) and an advisory council board member-Youth Services Center, Meyzeek Middle School. She serves as a key leader and board member on the 7th Street Corridor PAL Coalition and is a board member for Good Samaritan Society-Jeffersontown.
Mrs. Sias-Shannon received the Golden Oar Award from Jefferson County Public Schools (JCPS), one of the district’s highest honors; the Commonwealth of Kentucky Governor’s Citation through the Cabinet of Health and Family Services and; the Kentucky Commission on Community Volunteerism and Services; special recognition from the Proclamation Day Louisville Metro Council – in recognition of outstanding contributions, commitment and leadership; Mentor of the Year-Louisville Education and Employment Partnership; and Louisville Metro Council Black History Month Celebration-recognition of outstanding community services.
Mrs. Sias-Shannon is married with two children, a caregiver of many, and a member of the Burnett Avenue Baptist Church. Her professional affiliations include the National Association of Alcoholism and Drug Counselors; the Buechel-Fern Creek Rotary Club (past president); and Zeta Phi Beta Sorority Inc.