By Kyle Kootswatewa
The Institute of American Indian Arts and the Campus Office of Substance Abuse officially announce the program and their mission to address alcohol and other drug use on campus. Project Coordinator, Toney Johnson Jr., spoke with the IAIA Chronicle to update its readers about their vision and initiatives. Previously in the November issue of the IAIA Chronicle it was reported that the New Mexico Human Services Department’s Behavioral Health Services Division, their Office of Substance Abuse Prevention and the New Mexico Higher Education Prevention Consortium chose the Institute of American Indian Arts for a Partners for Success grant in December 2017. This semester, IAIA and the department of Student Life have tackled the much-needed program to help provide a safe and supportive space in our community.
Since August, the Student Life surveys have helped to assess qualitative data, engage the community to plan and implement their Strategic Prevention Framework. Next spring, COSAP will continue to provide monthly topics for discussion associated with alcohol and other drug use for on and off campus students. Johnson’s goal is to also facilitate bi-monthly focus groups for students, staff and faculty to further reflect health and wellness on and off campus.
With the intent to better increase capacity building and partnerships, COSAP will implement cultural competency and sensitivity in respect to the ninety plus Native American Nations associated with the Institute. Understanding and looking at the various health and wellness models in Native American cultures, the program sees talking circles as an important assessment tool to better grasp the cultural context.
“Developing cultural competence is an evolving, dynamic process that takes time and occurs along a continuum,” says the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration. Also, the National Center for Cultural Competence at Georgetown University’s Center for Child and Human Development describes the six stages of this continuum in Infusing Cultural and Linguistic Competence in Health Promotion Training.
Along with the four other Partner for Success Grant colleges in New Mexico, the program intends to continue building relationships, bringing in other alcohol and drug prevention resources. Currently COSAP works with the Santa Fe Prevention Alliance and Santa Fe Indian Center in promoting collective information. Potential partners in the future are the Santa Fe Service Unit with the Indian Health Service, Santa Fe Indian School, IAIA campus clubs, tribal leaders, city counselors and other health specialists.
Toney Johnson wants to echo the understanding of dealing with sensitive issues such as alcohol and other drug use in our communities. COSAP serves as a safe and supportive space for IAIA.
“The center piece of the program is community engagement and readiness,” says Johnson. “We want everyone to own this with their knowledge, arts, imagination and creativity.”