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Spokane Wellness Coalitions Find Ways To Help With COVID Messaging

Shadle Prevention and Wellness Coalition

Businesses and non-profits are morphing to the new coronavirus reality by looking for ways to be helpful. Some are working to buy or make personal protective equipment that can be used by local health care professionals.

Five Spokane community groups are using the COVID outbreak to help families deal with a variety of stressors.

During ordinary times, Spokane County’s community prevention coalitions work with schools and families to steer young people away from drugs and alcohol. Vaping is a big emphasis lately.

But that’s not a top-of-mind message right now, says Elysia Spencer from the Shadle Prevention and Wellness Coalition. So she searched for other ways she could help.

“A need we identified in our community was it would be really helpful if there was just one simple place where there was a list of which grocery stores were offering special shopping hours for seniors and for people with compromised immune systems," Spencer said.

So she compiled one and posted it to her coalition’s Facebook page. “The next thing I knew, it had been seen by 21,000 people and was being shared by the official page of Cathy McMorris Rodgers.”

Spencer says that post has helped to raise the visibility of her organization and the other community coalitions in Spokane County. That, she says, could help them raise more awareness of their core issues.

“By taking those steps and connecting to people where they are and with the things that are needed and important to them and their families right now, we are interspersing tips about child care and maintaining positive mental health with the idea that now is the perfect time to have some of those hard conversations about youth substance abuse," Spencer said.

She says with more young people spending more time around home, parents may be discovering for the first time that their kids are vaping. She says the East Valley Community Coalition is using the free lunch distribution to send fact sheets to parents to help them initiate talks with their kids about vaping.