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Effectively translating data to help kids

Sean O’Hagen chose to pursue his doctorate in clinical psychology at Binghamton because he saw a close-knit program -- a happy group of people “really working together.”

One of Sean O’Hagen’s clinical placements -- with the KYDS Coalition -- brought the national spotlight to the Binghamton Psychology Department.

The Keeping Youth Drug-free and Safe (KYDS) Coalition, a Broome County Youth Prevention Partnership program, partners with area school districts, police and the health department to reduce substance abuse among the youth of our area. Surveys are conducted, and prevention strategies are established from the information gathered.

The KYDS Coalition won a prestigious U.S. Department of Health and Human Services: Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration Science to Service Award for Substance Abuse Prevention.

Professor Stephen Lisman, O’Hagen’s advisor, served as consultant to the Broome County Mental Health Department to help develop the program and remains committed to it through placement and guidance of graduate students, including O'Hagen.

O’Hagen most enjoyed the varied tasks he completed for the coalition. “Opportunities presented themselves that I had never thought about but shape your career,” he says. “My year was a transitional one. The program was set up in schools already, so I helped the program to branch off from individual and family involvement to community involvement.”

O’Hagen analyzed survey instruments that measure substance use as well as risk and protective factors. He also coordinated selection of a new survey instrument, administration of it to over 5,000 local students in 11 area school districts and creation of a media and public service campaign to support awareness. “We created public service announcements based on what is going on in the community and ideas of what would be effective,” O’Hagen says. “We took the evidence-based research backing these ideas and tailored it to the community. “

O'Hagen was a member of Binghamton University’s Psychological Clinic Emergency Response Team and continued to work with the coalition after his internship ended. “I’m a small piece of this larger thing,” he says. “This kind of work can have such a good effect on what is my community.”

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Last Updated: 7/21/10