Williams Grad Overseeing Pittsfield Prevention Partnership

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PITTSFIELD, Mass. — Berkshire United Way has hired a new Pittsfield Prevention Partnership (PPP) coordinator.  

Arsema Abegaz, a 2014 graduate from Williams College, has been hired to fill the position that oversees youth substance use prevention efforts in the city.

“We are extremely excited to have Arsema joining our team” Karen Cole, coordinator of Youth Development at Berkshire United Way, said. “She brings a tremendous amount of enthusiasm to the position as well as being perfectly positioned to work with our area youth.”

Abegaz graduated from Williams College with a degree in economics in June 2014. Prior to that, she graduated with honors in 2010 from the Hill School in Pottstown, Penn., and from the Maru-a-Pula Secondary School in Gaborone, Botswana, in 2008. She has been an intern with the YWCA, USAID’s Commercial Farm Service Program and the World Vision in Ethiopia in 2013-2014.

While at Williams, she showed leadership/mentoring capabilities as the Class of 2014 Agent while also participating in the Williams Minority Coalition.

 The PPP aims to work with youth in the city to reduce substance use among eighth, 10th and 12th graders. Studies show that teens who start drinking at age 15 are four times more likely to develop addiction problems later in life than those who delay their first use. Since 2006, the PPP has been contributing to efforts that have led to a 50 percent decline in 30-day alcohol use by eighth graders.  

Abegaz will lead the PPP coalition of community members that have come together to create a healthy environment for positive youth development by reducing and preventing youth substance use. To guide its work, the PPP uses data gathered from middle and high school students that measure their use of substances, as well as the risk factors leading to use and protective factors that inhibit use.  The PPP has set a goal of reducing the 8th grade alcohol-use rate by another 10 percent by 2017.


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