Celebrating Healthy Communities is a coalition that combines four of San Juan Basin Health Department’s grant funded projects: The Lasso Tobacco Project (LTP), Celebrating Community Norms (CCN), The Dragon Youth Project, and Drug Free Communities (DFC). The coalition is comprised of organizations and members of the community and is focused on addressing the abuse of alcohol, tobacco, and other drugs among the youth and young adults in La Plata County. Our goal is to increase developmental assets among youth and young adults by positively impacting perceptions and community norms regarding substance use.


                                              CHC shares the San Juan Basin Health Vision:
                     We are leaders aiming to achieve healthy communities and health equity.

                                                                                  CHC Mission:
We are a sustainable coalition that collaborates, engages, and educates to promote addiction-free lifestyles by building assets for all.


This site is provided for you to learn more about the different programs that make up the coalition and how, by performing their own separate tasks, all four programs are building a stronger, healthier community for the residents of Archuleta and La Plata counties. The site is full of information and resources for coalition members, youth, parents, mentors, and anyone else in the community who wants to get more involved.


Many communities experience problems related to over consumption and abuse of alcohol, tobacco, and other drugs.

How do these issues affect the children in the community?

A 2008 Developmental Assets survey of La Plata County youth shows that only 28 percent of youth in grades 6 through 12 report that their parents or other adults model positive, responsible behavior. Click here for this report.

Additionally, data from the 2011 Healthy Kids Colorado Survey reveal that 39 percent of youth in the same grades believe their parents possess a favorable attitude toward drug use.

These two statistics give us concern about youth perceptions of community norms, thus the reason we do what we do.

Click here to find out more about the Health Kids Colorado Survey.

If you are a parent, teacher, coach, or mentor, please visit the Resources for Parents and Mentors tab for tools on how to build up Developmental Assets.

Lasso Tobacco Project

LTC logo [Converted]

For nearly 20 years, the Lasso Tobacco Project has been working to promote health by addressing tobacco use through a combination of education, advocacy and policy. As a result, the smoking rate in La Plata County has been reduced by more than 24 percent.

The Lasso Tobacco Project focuses on ways that, as a community, we can promote healthier lifestyles and overcome the injustices of the tobacco industry. The program includes areas such as youth prevention, policy work- strengthening the Colorado Clean Indoor Air Act, second-hand smoke education, as well as providing educational and cessation resources.

The Lasso Tobacco Project supports youth tobacco prevention primarily through their collaboration with local youth organizations as well as through the Celebrating Healthy Communities Coalition. The Lasso Tobacco Project carries out tobacco prevention, education, cessation and advocacy to the residents of Archuleta, La Plata, and San Juan counties to create tobacco-free communities and healthier lifestyles.

The Lasso Tobacco Project advocates for comprehensive alcohol, tobacco, and other substances education and prevention through these four core goal areas:

                              1.) Increase Developmental Assets among youth and young adults

                              2.) Foster positive community norms to decrease substance abuse

                              3.) Engage in policy work through community organizing

                              4.) Close the health gap for disparate populations

On November 5th, 2012 a public hearing at City Council was held for a city ordinance, proposed by the LTC, which strengthens the Colorado Clean Indoor Air Act by banning cigarette smoking in public spaces within city limits. Due to the hard work and dedication of our coalition members, including the Torch Club of the Boys and Girls Club of La Plata County, smoking is now banned in all city owned parks, playgrounds, bus stops, sports fields, and along the Animas River Trail!

 Tobacco Quit and Save App Available

For more information on Electronic (e-) Cigarettes and Secondhand Aerosol, click here

Celebrating Community Norms

LTC logo [Converted]

Celebrating Community Norms is funded by a five-year grant from the Colorado Division of Behavioral Health

Celebrating Community Norms (CCN) is an initiative that allows us here at the San Juan Basin Health Department to broaden our focus to address the use of alcohol and other drugs which often accompany the use of tobacco. Our goal is to increase developmental assets among youth and young adults by positively impacting perceptions and community norms regarding substance use.

The CCN project includes three primary approaches to improving the health of youth:

            One: Developing assets that research shows increases healthy behaviors;

            Two: Using an evidenced-based approach to correct misperceptions, attitudes and behaviors to promote positive   community norms;

            Three: Positively impacting community norms by supporting parent education and advancing policies designedto reduce youth use of alcohol, tobacco and other drugs.

What are Developmental Assets?

Developmental Assets are 40 common sense, positive experiences and qualities that help influence choices young people make and help them become caring, responsible adults.

Resilient youth are said to have “assets” that act as protective factors to support and encourage healthy development, and help teens avoid negative behaviors like dropping out of school, using alcohol or other drugs, teen pregnancy, and incarceration.

Many people find it helpful to use a simple checklist to reflect these assets. It may also help prompt conversations in families and organizations.

We anticipate that by the end of the CCN five-year grant period we will have successfully:

One. Engaged in community dialogue to affirm how much we value our youth and desire for them to become healthy, contributing adults.

 Showcased the importance of healthy behavior by adult role models.

Three. Reduced youth substance use by increasing individual and environmental assets and advancing policies for prevention of alcohol, tobacco and other substance abuse.

Dragon Youth Project


The Dragon Youth Project is a prevention program offered through SJBHD, standing for Developing Real Assets through Guidance, Opportunities & Knowledge. The DRAGON Youth Project is funded by Colorado Alcohol and Drug Abuse Divison and the Law Enforcement Assistance Fund.


To work with at-risk youth in order to strengthen areas of self-esteem, personal control, decision-making, interpersonal communication, and cultural awareness.
To work with the entire community to provide education that will assist in our youth making healthier choices, and to reduce and prevent drug and alcohol abuse, teen pregnancy, HIV and other sexually transmitted infections, as well as other risky behaviors. 
Reconnecting Youth
The Dragon Youth Project uses the science-based curriculum, Reconnecting Youth, A Peer Group Approach to Building Life Skills, as a resource and tool to provide effective prevention activities. The program contains all components of a life skills curriculum, including sections devoted to alcohol and drug-free living. It is a peer group approach to building skills for high-risk students. The program is designed to reduce risk factors and enhance protective factors that are linked with adolescent problem behaviors in general, and adolescent drug involvement specifically. We currently offer Reconnecting Youth classes through La Plata Youth Services and the 6th Judicial District Court Pre-trial Services Division.
Girls Circle
The Girls Circle Association has a research based curriculum that encourages the development of strength, self-esteem, honesty, enhanced judgment skills, confidence and communication skills for girls, not to mention maintaining an authentic connection with peers and other women of the community. A Girls Circle models structured support groups for girls from 9-18 years. It’s been proven to improve girls’ perceived body image, perceived social support and self-efficacy. The Dragon Youth Project offers Girls Circles in conjunction with La Plata county schools, after school programs, etc.  For more information on this program, please visit their website at  or contact the Dragon Youth Project.
Community Education
The Dragon Youth Project has a variety of resources available for any and all community organizations to help with the prevention of substance use and abuse and to make presentations on underage drinking, persistent drunk driving, drug knowledge, etc. We currently work with the La Plata Youth Services on a regular basis to provide drug and alcohol education. An ambition of the Dragon Youth Project is to work closely with the multitude of community organizations in our area that are working towards similar goals. We participate in Town Hall meetings, coalitions, and community summits to network because we feel that everyone should be involved to educate and motivate our youth.
Teen Pregnancy Prevention Program
Teen pregnancy is at the root of many public health and social challenges, and between 2005-2007 national teen pregnancy rates increased for the first time since 1991 (National Campaign, 2010).  Currently the Dragon Youth Project does not have funding to provide teen pregnancy prevention services outside the life skills education and peer support groups currently provided, but we hope to be able to offer classes in the future.  

For information on any of these programs, contact Shane at (970)264-2409 ext. 214.

Drug Free Communities

The Drug Free Communities grant was first awarded to us in the Fall of 2012. The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) awards only thirty DFC grants in the United States per year, so we are very fortunate to be one of the few!  Over a period of five years we will receive $125,000 every year. The two goals of the DFC are:

  1. Increase community collaboration regarding the prevention of youth substance abuse.
  2. Reduce substance abuse among youth in La Plata County. We will focus on alcohol, tobacco, marijuana, prescription drugs.

Some activities in our first year will be:

  • A social norms media campaign for 8th and 9th graders.
    • The message of this campaign is that most of our youth do not drink alcohol, because they are too busy with positive activities like mountain biking, powwow’s, snowboarding, or rodeo.

SJBHD_TooBusyRodeo SJBHD_TooBusyBiker SJBHD_BearDance

  • A social norms media campaign for parents.
    • The message of this campaign is that teenagers do listen to their parents, even though they don’t always show it. Parental disapproval of drug and alcohol use is very important.

SJBHD_PCmailer2front SJBHD_PCmailer1back

  • The adult role model award.
    • With this award we encourage youth to think about the importance of positive role models in their lives. Role models can help you reach your goals and can encourage you to contribute to your community.
  • Parent education about drugs and alcohol and about the 40 developmental assets.
    • Developmental assets are ‘building blocks’ for healthy development. The more developmental assets a child has, the more unlikely the child is to engage in risky behaviors like drug or alcohol abuse. Parents and teachers play a key role in this.
  • Strengthening the collaboration with partners in La Plata County.
    • The stronger our networks, the stronger our community. With a strong and caring community we can accomplish much more than we would ever think possible!

In order to qualify for this grant, the Celebrating Healthy Communities coalition needs to represent the following twelve community sectors: youth, parents, business, media, school, youth-serving organizations, religious organizations, law enforcement, civic or volunteer groups, health care, substance abuse prevention and governmental agencies.  

The staff at San Juan Basin Health Department coordinates all the work which is accomplished by subcommittees focused on Community Action, Media & Education, or Policy. The full coalition meets bi-monthly, and always welcomes new members!

For more information, questions or suggestions for activities, please contact Pat Senecal.

Resources for Parents and Mentors

Developmental Assets

The Search Institute’s 40 Developmental Assets are concrete, common sense, positive experiences and qualities essential to raising successful young people. These assets have the power during critical adolescent years to influence choices young people make and help them become thriving adults. The Developmental Asset framework is categorized into two groups, external and internal, each of which has 20 assets.

External assets are the positive supports and experiences young people receive from the world around them. These 20 assets are about supporting and empowering young people, setting boundaries and expectations, and positive and constructive use of young people’s time. External assets identify important roles that families, schools, congregations, neighborhoods, and youth organizations can play in promoting healthy development.

The 20 internal assets identify those characteristics and behaviors that reflect positive internal growth and development of young people. These assets are about positive values and identities, social competencies, and commitment to learning. The internal Developmental Assets help young people make thoughtful and positive choices and, in turn, be better prepared for situations in life that challenge their inner strength and confidence.

The Good News

Over time, studies of more than 2.2 million young people consistently show that the more assets young people have, the less likely they are to engage in a wide range of high-risk behaviors and the more likely they are to thrive. Research has proven that youth with the most assets are least likely to engage in four different patterns of high-risk behavior, including problem alcohol use, violence, illicit drug use, and sexual activity. The same kind of impact is evident with many other problem behaviors, including tobacco use, depression and attempted suicide, antisocial behavior, school problems, driving and alcohol, and gambling.

For more information about Developmental Assets visit

For age appropriate Developmental Assets lists with action steps click here.

Daily Check-in Checklist

You can use the assets to help you choose the ways you intentionally build the strengths of your child. Try using this checklist as a start or create your own.

Today I Will:
Ask how my child is doing. (Asset #2)
Really listen to my child. (Asset #33)
Act responsibly. (Asset #30)
Be honest with my spouse, kids, friends and neighbors. (Asset #29)
Offer my child opportunities to contribute to the family and to others. (Assets #7-9)
Notice what’s happening in my neighborhood. (Asset #13)
Ask what my child learned, likes and didn’t like in school. (Asset 36)
Tell my child about my day. (Asset #2)
Keep track of what my child is doing. (Asset #11)
Provide a quiet place for homework. (Asset #23)
Know when to turn off the TV. (Asset #20)
Help my child grow in body, mind and spirit. (Assets #17-19)
Tell my child one thing I love about her or him. (Asset #38)


Checkout these other resources:

Coalition Partners

San Juan Basin Health Department • Lasso Tobacco Project • 

• Durango School District 9-R • La Plata County Boys and Girls Club

 Fort Lewis College Student Wellness Initiatives • DRAGON Youth Project

SWConnect • La Plata Youth Services • Durango Police Department

Healthy Lifestyles La Plata • Seniors Outdoors • La Plata County Government

Regional Substance Abuse Prevention Partners • AmeriCorps

Big Brothers and Big Sisters of Southwestern Colorado

Children Youth and Family Master Plan Implementation Team


Pat Senecal- Health Systems and Policy Director

Shane Lucero- Dragon Youth Project

Cody Goss- Community Organizer- LTC

Kara Collins- RSAPP AmeriCorps Member- CCN

The Celebrating Healthy Communities Coalition is open to all interested persons/organizations and meets bi-monthly in the community. For more information on how you can get involved please contact us by email or call 970-335-2048.