These days it seems like there is a survey for everything. Like your pizza? Take a survey. Is your weather app accurate? Take a survey. Why is everyone wanting to know how we feel about everything? It comes down to one sentence: “You cannot manage what you cannot measure.”
In Fayette County a team of people across many organizations are working to make life better for our citizens. We’re thinking long term because positive change takes time. When you think long term, you have to think about the leaders of tomorrow who are today, our children. While we’re planning for our children we need to learn how things are for them, in other words, we need to measure their situation. How do we do that? We survey them.
The survey that gives us local data is called the Integrated Community Engagement (ICE) Survey. Through this survey, we are looking for information regarding where kids are being protected from risky behaviors or where they might find themselves involved in something dangerous, like drug use. Things that put one at risk, or protect them, are called Risk and Protective Factors.
The ICE Collaborative is working in Fayette County to delay or prevent the initiation of drugs and alcohol because the later in life one tries a substance, the less likely they are to develop an addiction. Also, those who delay initiation of substance use are more likely to graduate from high school. Graduating from high school is a good indicator of future success.
Through the surveys, students from seventh through twelfth grade tell us, anonymously, what they experience amongst their peers, at school, within their families, during their free time and in their community. Researchers at the Prevention Research Center help us collect and analyze the data. Then they prepare reports for us to share within our communities. In Fayette County, we have a lot of small communities with different resources. Because it is local data, it is easier to make local decisions that fit our youth. For example, Meadow Bridge started a hiking club because they saw that a lot of their kids weren’t engaged in organized activities after school. To add more caring adults at school, Fayetteville PK8 added a “Dad Dog” program.
This data also helps us find funding for youth initiatives. Funders like “good data” because over time the data should show if the money being spent is moving the data in a positive direction. High quality data also shows that we are committed to our mission.
Contact us if you are interested in hosting a data meeting in your community or organization. We love to have solutions based conversations. We keep the meetings fairly short, encourage you to talk amongst yourselves and want you to feel like, with support, you can help create a vibrant, healthy and fun community for all of us to enjoy.