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OMNI Grant Brings Substance Abuse Program to Stevenson

Three Lake County high schools will benefit from a private grant received by OMNI Youth Services.

OMNI Youth Services will expand its substance abuse program into Stevenson High School thanks to a grant the organization received from The Baxter International Foundation

The grant will fund The Seven Challenge program, which will also be introduced at Vernon Hills and Mundelein high schools by OMNI. The program is designed to assist adolescents and young adults in addressing challenges they face with alcohol and other drug use, promoting the motivation that will result in a decision and commitment to change, and support ongoing success.

“The program has changed the lives of many students and their families,” said Andy Greenawalt, president of OMNI Youth Services board of directors and CEO of Emerson Ecologics. “We are thrilled to continue our partnership with Baxter, which allows us to expand into additional communities and serve even more families,” he added.

The Baxter International Foundation grant supports an 18-week Seven Challenges program in each school. Students stay in the program for approximately 18 weeks, and all participants are given a drug and alcohol assessment to ensure they are appropriate for the program. The challenges provide a framework for helping youth think through their own decisions about their lives and their use of alcohol and other drugs. Counselors using The Seven Challenges program teach students how to identify and work on the issues most relevant to them.

OMNI staff is also currently delivering the Seven Challenges program in several other local schools as an onsite alternative to suspension for students.

The Baxter International Foundation was instrumental in helping OMNI first implement The Seven Challenges  program with a grant in 2007. Since then, more than 900 students have participated in these challenges.

“The Seven Challenges® Program expands access to health information aimed to help students make healthy choices,” said Donna Namath, executive director of The Baxter International Foundation. “This grant from The Baxter International Foundation, the philanthropic arm of Baxter, is a strong reflection of the commitment from the company and its employees in supporting the local community.” 

The impact of the program extends beyond the day-to-day reduction in substance abuse.  Research on The Seven Challenges Program has shown students experience a reduction in aggressive behavior; improved mental health; decreased criminal behavior; increased knowledge of HIV/AIDS; improvements in relationships with family members and adults; and a heightened level of honesty. 

Furthermore, out of those students participating in the program:

  • 90 percent will not receive additional infractions from the school or court system.
  • 60 percent will report reduced or no substance use at the end of the program.
  • 65 percent will report greater understanding of taking responsibility for their own actions.
  • 50 percent will show greater recognition of people who they can trust.

For more information on The Seven Challenges program, contact Brian McKenna at 847.353.1652.

— Information provided by OMNI Youth Services

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