At the July 18 Contra Costa County Board of Supervisors’meeting, Contra Costa County Office of Education (CCCOE) employee, Derrick Kirk, was honored with the 2017 People Who Make a Difference Award. Annually, the Contra Costa Alcohol and Other Drugs Advisory Board acknowledges both volunteer and non-volunteer individuals and groups that have significantly contributed towards reducing substance use in our communities.
Kirk is a youth development specialist for CCCOE’s Tobacco Use Prevention Education (TUPE) program. In earning this special award, he was recognized for his work last year in training nearly 500 middle and high school students as TUPE peer educators throughout Contra Costa County. In addition, he’s co-coordinating the CourAGE Youth Health Coalition, along with the Center for Human Development’s Friday Night Live Program.
“Anyone who has had the privilege of working with Derrick is not surprised to learn that he is more commonly known as ‘Mr. Awesome’ among our middle and high school peer educators,” says TUPE Manager Emily Justice. “Since he began his work at CCCOE, the number of students in our county trained as tobacco prevention peer educators has increased from an average of 200 per year to 500 and those students reach 30,000 of their peers annually. Derrick’s enthusiasm, positive attitude, humor, and dedication are inspiring to those around him and I am honored to be his colleague.”
CourAGE is a youth-led group that plays a countywide leadership role in addressing issues such as tobacco, alcohol, and other drug use and misuse. He continuously encourages young people to “shoot for the stars.” With the training and ongoing support from Kirk, hundreds of local students have been given the tools and the confidence to present issues associated with underage substance use to their classmates.
The purpose of the TUPE program is to reduce youth tobacco use by helping students make healthful tobacco-related decisions through tobacco-specific educational instruction and activities that build knowledge as well as social skills and youth development assets. TUPE maintains a Web page for additional information.
The CCCOE provides technical assistance to school districts to develop and implement effective, comprehensive tobacco education programs. Training and technical assistance provided includes:
- Tobacco-free schools’ certification
- Annual countywide TUPE Site Coordinator training
- California Healthy Kids Survey (CHKS) administration and data sharing training
- Alcohol, tobacco and other drug (ATOD) curriculum trainings for teachers
- Grant writing support
- Quarterly district and community partner networking meetings
- Current research on adolescent ATOD use, as well as effective prevention and intervention strategies