Tahlequah Public Schools is proud to sponsor the Tahlequah B.E.S.T. Community Coalition. B.E.S.T. stands for Bringing Everyone’s Strengths Together and has been in existence for over 10 years (established in 2004). B.E.S.T. is funded solely by federal funding ear marked to support improving the health of communities. While Tahlequah Public Schools provides a safe and healthy environment for students during the school day, coalitions compliment what schools provide by working in the community on initiatives that support safety and health beyond the hours students spend at school.
Val Dobbins has been the coordinator since inception. Her support team consist of two community preventionist, Desirae Bloomer and Jyme Lowe. Currently Mrs. Bloomer is implementing the sexual health curriculum, “Draw The Line, Respect The Line” at Tahlequah Middle Schools and Ms. Lowe is implementing the violence prevention curriculum “Safe Dates” at Tahlequah High School. Other ongoing initiatives of Tahlequah B.E.S.T. include the Drug Free Communities Support Program (underage drinking, tobacco and prescription drug prevention), the Partnerships to Improve Community Health (a partnership with Cherokee Nation Healthy Nation to promote tobacco prevention and promote good nutrition), the Safe Routes To School (a partnership with the City of Tahlequah and Cherokee Nation to support walkable communities), the Partnerships For Success (a partnership with Cherokee Nation Behavioral Health to prevent prescription drug abuse) and the partnership with the Cherokee County Healthy Living Program (funded by our tobacco settlement dollars to focus on tobacco control, and promote physical activity and nutrition).
Individuals and agencies involved in the coalition include representatives from Northeastern State University, City of Tahlequah, Cherokee Nation, Tahlequah Public Schools, Cherokee County Healthy Living Program, Cherokee County Health Department, Cherokee County Health Services Council, Tahlequah Chamber and Main Street, Tahlequah Farmer’s Market, Oklahoma State University Extension, Northeastern Health Systems, Cherokee County Health Coalition, officials from the City, County, NSU, Scenic Rivers and Tribal law enforcement departments, also the district attorney’s and district judicial offices as well as several behavioral health providers.
We are also fortunate to have our new Oklahoma State Representative, Matt Meredith and Oklahoma State Senator, Dewayne Pemberton on board as new members. We were grateful for their attendance at the first coalition meeting of the new year held January 12, 2017. Coalition members, Coleman Cox, Mary HorseChief and Kassandra Rosas will also be attending the Community Anti-Drug Coalitions of America conference in Washington D.C. in February and will be visiting with our United States Representatives and Senators to discuss the important role coalitions play in promoting health in communities.
Tahlequah Public Schools sponsors and participates in the coalition because our students need a safe and healthy environment to not only learn in, but also to live in outside of the school day. If you would like to become a member or learn more about how the coalition contributes to community health, contact Val Dobbins at Tahlequah Public Schools at 918-458-4191.