Search the Site

April 8, 2024

Meet Shawn Uphoff

“Without the vital support of our district and school administration, many of our programs would not be possible.”

It is through strong partnerships with educators, public health and community experts that we can collectively impact the lives of youth in a healthy and positive way. One of our many long-standing partners is Shawn Uphoff, Program Manager for the Fountain Hills Protect Our Youth Coalition (POY) in Arizona. Learn more about Shawn and her efforts to keep youth healthy and nicotine free.

In Shawn’s Words…

With the challenges posed by COVID-19, many in-school programs were lost. When I came aboard in 2022, we investigated how we could bring CATCH My Breath back into the school setting. With vaping being so prominent among youth, we knew this was a program that had to be administered. Our partnership with the Maricopa County Department of Public Health (MCDPH) allowed for MCDPH to provide the facilitator training and I became a facilitator to implement CATCH My Breath. MCDPH has provided support to our efforts in implementing CATCH My Breath in the middle school by providing the materials for the different grade levels and incentives for students.

My role [as the Program Manager for the Fountain Hills Protect Our Youth Coalition (POY)] is to build relationships and rally support for the POY Coalition’s mission, contributing to increased presence and awareness in schools, at Fort McDowell Yavapai Nation, and community events as well as building positive perception for living drug free. This is accomplished through our awareness programming such as Red Ribbon Week, CATCH My Breath vaping prevention curriculum, senior high school internship program, high school student and athlete public service announcements, Falcon PROMise Pledge campaign, high school essay contest, and middle school poster contest, just to name a few.

How Shawn tailors CATCH My Breath to meet the unique needs of her community…

Classroom management and involvement is key to fostering engagement and participation among 6th, 7th, and 8th graders. By initially using treats as incentives and gradually transitioning to intrinsic motivation, we empowered our middle schoolers to take ownership of their learning. Most of them eagerly participated in the videos, conversation, and activities throughout the CATCH My Breath presentation. Prioritizing student voice and providing supplementary materials (word search, word match) for downtime not only keeps students engaged, but promotes trust and a sense of collaboration.

Shawn’s Success…

The Fountain Hills Protect Our Youth Coalition is unique in that our school district, FHUSD, provided us a dedicated classroom within the middle school last fall. Without the vital support of our district and school administration, many of our programs would not be possible. After presenting the CATCH My Breath curriculum to our middle schoolers, I invited students to come visit me in our classroom to incentivize positive behavior and reinforce important lessons learned. Because we created a safe and inviting environment where students openly discussed their beliefs, choices, and knowledge during CATCH My Breath, to my surprise, many students drop in to grab a treat or just chat. Based on these interactions, school administration has decided to create a PBIS (Positive Behavior Interventions and Supports) “ticket.” Students can use their points to “Lunch with Coalition”, play air hockey, or learn about the harmful effects of substance abuse and misuse through our classroom’s displays and interactive materials.