During the year 1988, the Berkeley County Commission on Alcohol and Drug Abuse introduced the prevention concept. It became apparent if Prevention was to be accepted, it needed the input and support of Berkeley County citizens.
The first countywide Prevention Board was established in 1989 with approximately 12 individuals representing various agencies and communities.
The first task for the board was to understand prevention and to develop community programs and projects.
The first sponsored prevention activity for the Berkeley County Prevention Board (BCPB) was the "Get High on Life" Walk, which began at the Moncks Corner Fairgrounds, down Main Street and ended with festivities on the grounds of Berkeley High School.
The Berkeley County Prevention Board has now grown to over 40 members with great representation of the county. Along with the growth of its members, its mission is well established. As of 2020, the board serves as the over-arching coalition for Substance Misuse specific subcommittees, sponsors 3 annual Community Events, serves as a Speakers Bureau to the community and is dedicated to enhance the quality of life in Berkeley County.
The mission of the board, composed of concerned citizens from the public and private sectors, is dedicated to promoting safe and healthy, drug-free communities through awareness, education and family-oriented activities designed to enhance the quality of life and prevention of youth substance abuse in Berkeley County. The vision is a Berkeley County that is safe, healthy and drug-free.
Membership on the Berkeley County Prevention Board is open to any interested citizen from both public and private sectors. There is an annual Board Training and Retreat members attend, along with the regularly scheduled meetings, which occur on the third Wednesday each month.
The following are community events the board sponsors:
The BCPB and the Kennedy Center Prevention Department join the Berkeley County Council, along with each city in Berkeley County, the Sheriff and the Superintendent in proclaiming October 23rd through 31st as Red Ribbon Week. 2020 will mark the 30th year of this joint commitment to create a safe and drug-free Berkeley County. The theme this year is “Be Happy, Be Brave, Be Drug-Free”.
The BCPB celebrated the 29th annual Family Fest! Picnic in the Park in October 2019. The board sponsors this event each year as a part of the National Red Ribbon Campaign. It is designed to educate the public about healthy alternatives to alcohol and drugs.
Hundreds of families come to the Old Santee Canal Park to enjoy a fun afternoon of stage activities and performances, interactive family games, information and display booths and food. The project is sponsored each year by donations from twelve public and private businesses partners.
Longtime board member and community partner, Santee Cooper, provides the park facility with free admission on the day of the event to all who wear red. The first one hundred people to enter the park and sign a drug-free pledge receive a t-shirt. The t-shirt and poster artwork is unique each year, designed, and donated by local artist and teacher, Steven Bailey since 1990. It continues to be a countywide collaborative event. This serves as the Kick-Off to Red Ribbon Week activities in the schools, in each municipality and throughout the county.
In December of each year, the board sponsors the Candlelight Memorial Service in Moncks Comer. This ceremony increases the awareness of the consequences of driving while impaired and provides those who have been impacted by traffic fatalities involving drunk and/or drugged drivers, an opportunity to remember and reflect. These services, which are part of the National Drunk and Drugged Driving (3D) campaign, are a reminder not to drive while under the influence of drugs or alcohol. The Berkeley County Coroner serves as the master of ceremonies; music is provided by local school choirs, Law Enforcement partners provide information and victims speak about the impact on their families. Individuals are given the opportunity to share their loved ones name and light a candle in their memory. Members of the press highlight these events and further disseminate the information each year. These efforts include public service announcements, newspaper articles, television coverage, local billboard and social media information. The initiative targets the holiday season, Thanksgiving through New Year’s Eve, with messages that target youth as well as adults. The 30th annual Candlelight Memorial Service was held in December 2019 as a joint effort between the community, law enforcement, the schools, the Coroner’s office, the media, the Kennedy Center and the Berkeley County Prevention Board.
Throughout the school year, the Berkeley County Prevention Board serves as a resource and a collaborative partner to the Berkeley County Schools by providing materials, speakers and evidence based programs. School district staff have been members of the board from its inception in 1989.
The board serves as the designated coalition for the following awarded grants:
The 9th Judicial Circuit Alcohol enforcement Team (AET) was created through a state grant in 2007. The team focuses on underage alcohol enforcement and environmental strategies, to include underage alcohol sales, violations, party patrols and public safety checkpoints.
The DFC (Drug Free Communities Grant) cooperative agreement, first awarded in 2014, focuses on underage alcohol and tobacco, to include e-cigarettes and End devices. The DFC created two subcommittees: the RU21 Underage Alcohol Team focusing on underage alcohol issues and promoting the underage Tip Line; the B.E.A.T. (Berkeley Education Advisory Team) comprised of youth from each high school in Berkeley County, which serve as the youth advisory to the BCPB.
The Partnership for Success (PFS) grant, awarded in 2020, continues the work of the previous ECHO state grant focusing on Prescription Drug Misuse. In addition, the PFS will address Impaired Driving in Berkeley County. The SPARx (Stop Prescription Drug Abuse) Subcommittee, created through the ECHO grant, addresses the misuse of prescription medications, overdoses, community wide awareness, take-back alternatives and safe storage of medications.
There is also involvement and collaboration in tobacco issues with the Smoke-Free Lowcountry Coalition. This subcommittee focuses on tobacco-free issues for the Tri-County region of Berkeley, Charleston & Dorchester Counties.
The strength of the Berkeley County Prevention Board and its longevity can be attributed to the numerous volunteers/board members and Kennedy Center staff who have supported its initiatives and programs throughout the years.
Many of the Prevention Board members have received individual awards at the local, state and national level.
Each year, the board recognizes a "Volunteer of the Year" and a “Youth Leader of the Year” for their unique contributions. The members are recognized at the annual board training and retreat and a press release is then shared with local media sources listing their accomplishments.
To become involved in the Berkeley County Prevention Board and its mission contact a Prevention Department staff person at the Kennedy Center in Goose Creek, at 843-797-7871.