WASHINGTON TERRACE -- When nearly a dozen Bonneville High School students were arrested in mid- November in a raid by the Weber-Morgan Narcotics Strike Force, it confirmed to Amy Mikkelsen that the youth community needed help.
Mikkelsen is coordinator of Communities That Care, a local participant in a national program that helps neighborhoods assess risks that increase the likelihood of area youths engaging in problem behaviors such as gang activity, substance abuse and crime.
South Ogden, Washington Terrace, Uintah and Riverdale have an interlocal agreement to fund the program aimed at helping their high school-age youths who attend Bonneville High School.
A report to be released early next week will identify the three leading risk factors south Weber County teens face and recommendations to eliminate those factors, Mikkelsen said.
In addition to risks, the program recognizes protective factors such as schools, religious-affiliated groups and community programs that give kids positive alternatives to drug use and violence and makes specific recommendations that communities can use as an outline for success.
The goal is to identify the types of factors that lead kids to detrimental behavior and to bolster efforts to reduce risky behaviors, Mikkelsen said.
The report pulls data from the Student Health and Risk Prevention Survey and information gathered by the school district.
After analysis, the program evaluates the needs of each community, the resources already helping to meet those needs and what available assistance isn't being utilized.
"SHARPS is a survey given out to sixth-, eighth-, 10th- and 12th-graders every two years," Mikkelsen said. "It's basically to assess what types of risk factors are high with the youth and what types of protective factors are low."
Dropout rates, test scores, attendance and drug abuse are also analyzed and considered in the findings.
Mikkelsen noted that the program, currently funded by participating cities with matching funds from the state, focuses on prevention as opposed to reaction and is tailored for the challenges facing each specific community.
"A recommendation will be issued and basically point out the risk factors and protective factors, and what drug-usage rates we need to focus on reducing," she said.
"Once that's out, the community board will identify gaps where programs don't exist and look at programs that will fill those gaps."
Mikkelsen said they hope to get these new programs going by spring or summer and are looking for sources to help fund them.
In January, after a contest held at Bountiful High school, the design by student Maddy VanOrman was chosen as the organization's logo.
Maddy, 16, was encouraged by an art teacher to submit her computer- designed work even though she mostly designs portraits with colored pencil.
"This was the first real project I've done on the computer," Maddy said. "It took a few hours over a couple days. I made some thumbnails and came up with some ideas, then took them to the computer."
Maddy said the $200 she received is going toward buying a car, but the fact that her work will represent an organization that's helping the community is what really makes her proud.
"I think the cause was what made it worth the work," she said.
"Communities That Care is a good program, so it's pretty cool."