Amelia Berry

Amelia Berry
Location: Frankfort, Kentucky Cohort Start Year: 2019 Project Topics: Addiction and Substance Abuse, Arts in Health and Healing, Behavioral and Mental Health, Built Environment/Housing/Planning, Community/Civic Engagement, Disease Prevention and Health Promotion, Education, Leadership Development, Maternal and Infant Health, Public Policy, Public, Population and Community Health, Racial Justice, Social Sector/Non-Profit, Violence and Trauma Populations Served: Adolescents (12-20 years), At-Risk/Vulnerable Populations, Children (6-11 years), Children and Families, Drug/Alcohol/Tobacco Users, Faith-Based Groups, Incarcerated or Formerly Incarcerated Populations, Low-Income Communities, People with Addictions, Rural Communities, Urban Communities, Women's Health
Project Director, Just Say Yes
Franklin County Health Department

Amelia Berry believes that health requires connectedness—to family and community, to one’s own valued purpose, and to equitable public goods and services that put well-being within reach for all. Amelia leads Yes Arts, a non-profit in Frankfort, Ky., that mobilizes the power of community and the arts to disrupt the cycle of addiction. She also serves on the Frankfort Independent Schools Board of Education. Her work focuses on helping youth thrive by strengthening support for the central influencers in their lives: families and public schools. Amelia is particularly interested in the ways in which systems can meaningfully support parents and guardians who are striving to break cycles of trauma and addiction within their families. Amelia is a strong advocate for investment in primary prevention, early childhood education, and high-quality after-school programming for all children. In everything she does, Amelia strives to connect and nurture the abundant gifts of local people to create and realize a shared vision of community that allows each person to live with safety, dignity, creativity and hope.

STRATEGIC INITIATIVE: Equity-Lens Countywide Substance Abuse Prevention Initiative for Youth: “Just Say Yes”
Skyrocketing rates of substance misuse have wreaked havoc on the health, quality of life, and economy of Franklin County, Kentucky. I championed a countywide prevention initiative called “Just Say Yes” (JSY), which adapts the Icelandic Prevention Model (IPM) to a Kentucky context, incorporating trauma-informed practices and an equity lens. Based on the premise that reduction of substance use depends upon altering the environment of youth to minimize risk and maximize protective factors, the IPM relies on sustained engagement of all stakeholders who have influence in the lives of youth, including parents and other caregivers. JSY just completed the inaugural Franklin County Youth Survey, administered to all public 7–10th grade students to determine the risk and protective factors driving substance use. Data will be analyzed and shared by the school community beginning in March 2021. My strategic initiative will bring together parents and caregivers for an intensive process of engagement to build connection and solidarity among caregivers, understanding of prevention strategies and capacity for implementing them, and a shared sense of responsibility to work individually and collectively to create healthier environments for youth in the school community.

Growing up in Cincinnati’s now-gentrified Over-the-Rhine neighborhood in the 1980s, Amelia learned not only about the realities of poverty, racism, trauma, violence, addiction and systemic injustice, but also about the ways resilience can be nurtured in unexpected ways. Amelia believes strongly in the necessity of bringing marginalized voices to the center of policymaking and in the power of people from all walks of life to create healthy, equitable, thriving communities together.


Click here to watch Amelia’s Legacy Project video.