Addiction Alliance of Georgia launches prevention collaborative in Atlanta school
Woodruff Health Sciences Center | April 13, 2021
South Atlanta High School will begin implementing the BARR model with ninth-grade students.
BARR Center (Building Assets, Reducing Risks) and the Addiction Alliance of Georgia, a unique collaboration between Emory Healthcare and the Hazelden Betty Ford Foundation, are excited to announce their partnership and welcome South Atlanta High School of Atlanta Public Schools as the first BARR school in Georgia.
BARR is a national organization that aims to bring education into the 21st century through intentionally deepened relationships and a data-driven, personalized and supportive approach. It uses an evidence-based universal prevention model that has been proven to reduce risky behaviors including decreasing the incidence of substance use (alcohol, tobacco, and other drugs), academic failure, truancy and disciplinary incidents among youth. By using real-time data and building relationships, staff are able to support healthy development and reduce the likelihood that risky behaviors will become the norm.
“In this time of the pandemic, with multiple school disruptions and ongoing physical isolation, students, teachers, families and schools are experiencing significant stress and strain, which we know is increasing risks for substance use, mental health issues and negative educational consequences for young people,” says Stephen Delisi, MD, medical director for the Professional Education Continuum Solutions team at Hazelden Betty Ford.
“A comprehensive, evidence-based prevention model such as BARR is so important now because it targets social-emotional learning and builds supportive relationships among students, teachers, peers and parents in a way that helps change trajectories so chronic lifelong mental health and substance use disorders, and other negative outcomes, do not occur,” Delisi notes.
Hazelden Betty Ford is the nation’s largest nonprofit system of addiction treatment, co-occurring mental health care, recovery resources and related prevention and education services. It partners with BARR Center to implement the BARR model at schools throughout the country. Last fall, it also launched the Addiction Alliance of Georgia in partnership with leading U.S. health system Emory Healthcare.
The Addiction Alliance of Georgia is engaging public and private collaborators throughout Georgia to reduce addiction rates, improve recovery rates and save more lives through a diverse strategy of treatment, prevention, education, research and outreach. The Alliance is beginning its work by focusing on prevention and developmental growth with the future leaders of tomorrow – students. The goal is to help develop resilient, healthy and compassionate young leaders.
“This is a great early project for us with an incredible partner like BARR Center, and an exceptional way to begin our work reaching out to community-based prevention professionals throughout Georgia to determine how best we can fill gaps and partner with others engaged in similar work. Our work with BARR at South Atlanta High School will help provide the tools necessary to keep healthy kids healthy,” says William McDonald, MD, professor, Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences, Emory University School of Medicine. McDonald and Delisi chair the Addiction Alliance of Georgia’s Education and Community Outreach Committee.
BARR is an evidence-based universal prevention model that has been proven to reduce risky behaviors including decreasing the incidence of substance use (alcohol, tobacco, and other drugs), academic failure, truancy and disciplinary incidents among youth. By using real-time data and building relationships, staff are able to support healthy development and reduce the likelihood that risky behaviors will become the norm.
South Atlanta High School will begin implementing BARR with ninth-grade students. The school has already begun BARR’s implementation training with staff members who have been learning more about the model’s two pillars – relationships and data.
BARR is designed to create strong schools and communities by empowering students, teachers and families with data, so that schools can re-align existing resources to nurture a unified and personalized culture of support and success for every student, both inside and outside of the classroom.
The BARR model provides a system and structure to the schools' prevention efforts, allowing for targeted interventions to be put in place for those students most in need. These interventions range from encouraging students to enroll in advanced or honors courses all the way to putting supports in place for mental health and other concerns through school- or community-based programming.
COVID-19 has made it even more critical that educators have the tools they need to reach students. The changes they have made in the past year have been revolutionary in transforming education given the impact of the pandemic throughout the world.
“Things a year ago that seemed impossible are not,” says BARR Founder and Executive Director Angela Jerabek. “We need each other now more than ever.”
By implementing BARR at South Atlanta High School, educators will have the support they need in these challenging times and in the future to continue fostering even stronger relationships with their students. This support will help ensure each and every student feels seen, heard and valued.
Strengthening these relationships will be critical to give educators the tools they need to remove barriers to help students enhance their health. By using a whole-child approach, educators are able to look at students’ needs from multiple perspectives and help them succeed.
“At South Atlanta High School, we prioritize the need to transform students into future leaders to have a lasting impact in their communities,” says South Atlanta High School Principal Dr. Patricia Ford. “We are grateful for the opportunity to offer BARR to students through this partnership, as
we continue strengthening relationships, supporting each learner and helping students be the best versions of themselves.”
BARR will also equip South Atlanta High School with the tools to be able to further assess data to help keep students healthy while meeting high standards, achieving their goals, and attending school more. This data is pivotal to better serving students by understanding them academically, socially and emotionally. BARR will provide educators with time specifically allotted in their schedules to focus on each individual student’s well-being, strengths and needs together. This collaboration is critical to help students feel supported as they strive for growth.
“In order to create a thriving environment, we need to truly know each student and understand them from multiple perspectives,” says Jerabek. “BARR will provide South Atlanta High School’s team with the tools they need by building meeting time into their calendars to focus on data and strengthen relationships, helping each and every student succeed.”
This partnership between BARR and the Addiction Alliance of Georgia will not only help students academically, socially and emotionally. It will provide educators with the tools they need to truly transform students’ lives.
About BARR Center
BARR Center (Building Assets, Reducing Risks) aims to bring education into the 21st century with intentionally deepened relationships and a data-driven personalized and supportive approach that aligns students, teachers, staff, and families with a unified culture of support and success so that, together, we can build strong schools and communities. For more information, visit BARRcenter.org.
About Atlanta Public Schools
Atlanta Public Schools is one of the largest school districts in the state of Georgia, serving approximately 51,000 students across 87 schools and five programs. The District is organized into nine K-12 clusters with 64 traditional schools, 19 charter schools, six partner schools, two alternative schools and five alternative programs. To learn more about Atlanta Public Schools, follow us on social media – Twitter (@apsupdate), Facebook (Atlanta Public Schools), and Instagram (apsupdate) – or visit us online at www.atlantapublicschools.us.
About the Addiction Alliance of Georgia
Utilizing the experience and strengths of two national health care leaders, Emory Healthcare and the Hazelden Betty Ford Foundation, the Addiction Alliance of Georgia is a comprehensive partnership dedicated to reducing substance-use-disorder rates; improving recovery rates; and bringing hope, healing and health to more people and families throughout Georgia and beyond. Founded in 2020, the Alliance integrates addiction treatment and co-occurring mental health care, education, prevention, outreach and research, collaborating with government agencies, concerned donors and partners throughout the larger community. Learn more at AddictionAllianceOfGeorgia.org.