Graphic About Us

About DenverRAP

The Denver Resource for Awareness and Prevention (DenverRAP) was developed by the Denver Office of Drug Strategy (DODS) in 2011. We strive to help meet the overwhelming need for substance abuse prevention information, education and other resources in Denver.

DenverRAP provides upstream prevention programming in Denver focusing on  youth drinking and other substance abuse topics to parents, youth, service providers, and the local community.

DenverRAP currently offers the following programs and resources to the community:

  • Presentations to youth and adult community groups
  • Referrals for youth and parents with substance use issues or questions
  • Parent Toolkits for parents or caregivers containing strategies for talking to your kids about alcohol (available en Espanol)
  • Pamphlets and other materials for distribution at events

Contact DenverRAP at 720-944-2825 for more information on our community offerings.

 


 


What is Upstream Prevention

 

When we discuss upstream prevention, we often refer to the following story:

“There once was a man who lived in a village situated near a waterfall along a river. Every day he would take a walk along the river’s edge near the waterfall. On one particular day he heard a shout coming from the water and saw a kid caught up in the current, about to go over the waterfall. Springing into action, he swam out to the kid and pulled him to safety. The next day he was on his regular walk when he heard another shout and saw another kid in the current. As he pulled this one to safety he heard yet another shout from the current. The people of the village began to realize that there were an overwhelming number of kids caught in the current being swept towards the waterfall. They began to get organized; they trained lifeguards, built watchtowers and trained everyone in CPR and mouth-tomouth resuscitation. They saved a lot of kids but they weren’t able to save all of them, some still went over the waterfall. One day the man started to walk upstream. The others began to say to him, “Where are you going? We need you here!” He replied “I’m going upstream to see if I can keep some kids from falling in the river in the first place.”

Upstream prevention seeks to build protective factors into a community, by teaching resiliency and coping, and strengthening youth-adult connectedness, so that, kids never fall in the river in the first place, or when they do they know how to swim and get themselves out of the river while the waters are still relatively tranquil.

(Sources of Strength)

 


 


 

 

Our Team

 

Photo of DenverRAP director Nachshon Zohari

Nachshon Zohari

Over the past 15 years Nachshon has reached a broad spectrum of people in his work specializing in substances abuse, trauma, and mental health issues.  He started his career as a therapist at a substance abuse clinic in Salt Lake City, UT.  In 2001, he moved to Denver to lead the Women and Family Program at Denver Health’s Outpatient Behavioral Health Services.  In 2006, he became the Program Administrator for Mental Health and Substance Abuse Treatment for the Denver Department of Human Services, Child Welfare Division, where he was especially proud of his work developing and implementing Denver EFFECT – a collaborative, family-focused substance abuse program that views the family as the client rather than just the individual; implementing the Trauma Informed Practice (TIP) initiative; and creating effective collaborative partnerships with other community systems.

Nachshon is currently the director of the Denver Office of Drug Strategy, which is a division within the Denver Department of Human Services.  This program partners with the community in order to prevent and treat substance abuse and other related behavioral health issues, track and analyze substance abuse trends that impact the community, promote public health through efforts that mitigate the dangers related to substance abuse, and alert policy makers to substance abuse issues that rise to the level of public concern and then offer guidance on possible ways forward.

Nachshon Zohari, LCSW
Director, Denver Office of Drug Strategy
1200 Federal Blvd., Denver, CO 80204
720.944.6375 (office)

Photo of DenverRAP partner Michel Holien

Michel Holien

Michel Holien supervises the Substance Use Prevention Program and began working in DPS in December of 2015.  Prior to that, she worked in Boulder County for a multi-agency collaborative dedicated to promoting resiliency in adolescents by providing school-based, health-related prevention and intervention services. Michel is a licensed clinical social worker who brings with her a unique blend of direct service experience as well as a public health background.  She has a passion for up-stream prevention (addressing problems before they start) rather than trying to fix things after the fact.  Michel’s expertise is in program management and development, as well as social emotional program implementation in school settings.

Contact Information:
Whole Child Supports
720-423-2433
michel_holien@dpsk12.org

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Kennedy M. Sabelko, M.S.

Kennedy is a Prevention/Intervention Specialist while serving Noel Community Arts School. He received his Bachelors’ of Arts in Education in 2000 and began teaching inner-city youth in Milwaukee, WI between 2000-2003. After completing his Master’s Degree in Community Mental Health Counseling, he went on to provide Jail Based, Residential and Outpatient Behavioral Counseling services to underrepresented minorities in Milwaukee, WI until his moved to Colorado in 2011. Kennedy has worked with both adult and adolescents presenting with co-occurring mental health and substance abuse disorders. Kennedy has had extensive training in Trauma Informed Care, Dialectical Behavioral Therapy (DBT), Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, Relapse Prevention and SMART Recovery. Whether working in an educational setting or a therapeutic environment, one of his main goals is to inform, educate and provide a holistic approach for individuals to make informed decisions when setting goals and achieving a better quality of life. Kennedy has four children and enjoys hiking, camping, rafting, concerts, performance arts, and spending quality time with his children.

 

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 Lauren Dodge

Lauren is the Prevention Specialist located full-time at Hamilton Middle School. She is a transplant from Oregon and has been in Colorado since 2013. She has been working in with teens since 2011, with a specialty in substance use. Prior to getting her master’s degree in social work in 2015, Lauren worked with adolescents experiencing homelessness, substance dependence, criminal justice involvement, truancy and mental health needs. Her passion is to support students in identifying their strengths both in and outside the classroom to help assist them in meeting their potential and successfully managing the challenges that they experience as they grow and learn. Lauren’s expertise is in prevention and intervention, substance use, trauma informed care, motivational interviewing and crossover youth.

Contact Information:
Hamilton Middle School, Room 200A
720-423-9499

 

 

 

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Sierra Dawkins

Sierra is a Prevention Specialist at DCIS Montbello and Denver Online High School. She is new to DPS this year but has 4 years of experience working in schools and residential treatment settings with high risk urban youth. Sierra graduated from CU Boulder with a Bachelor of Fine Arts in 2008 and Metropolitan State University of Denver with a Master of Social Work degree in 2014. She is very passionate about creating and ensuring equality for all DPS students and making sure they have access to the resources they need to be successful.

Sierra’s expertise is in building relationships, conducting individual and group counseling, crisis intervention, conflict mediation/restorative justice, prevention and intervention, trauma informed care, motivational interviewing, LGBTQI/GSA, person centered therapy, CBT/DBT, team building and character education.

 

 

Photo of DenverRAP partner Jeanette Nicastri

Jeanette Nicastri

Jeanette  is the Prevention Specialist located at Henry Legacy Middle School and Skinner Middle School. She has been working as a social worker since 1997 in school settings, other agencies and primarily with adolescents and families. Her passion is to empower students and their families towards their life goals and aspirations by engaging them in their education, communities and interests. Jeanette’s expertise is in building relationships with students and families, grief and loss, prevention and intervention, parenting skills, trauma, crisis intervention and collaboration with colleagues and outside agencies. Jeanette has lived in Colorado since 2008.

Whole Child Supports
Direct Voicemail: 720-423-2181
Jeanette_nicastri@dpsk12.org

Henry World LMS (M, Tu, 1st & 4th Fridays)
3005 S. Golden Way
Denver, CO 80227
Room: 161D

Skinner Middle School (W, Th, 2nd & 3rd Fridays)
3435 W. 40th Ave.
Denver, CO 80211
Room 102B

 

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Gabriela Mohr

Gabriela Mohr, MSW has been in the prevention field for 12 years and has worked extensively with Alcohol and Other Drug Prevention in Arizona and Colorado. She is from Tucson, Arizona and has been in Denver, Colorado for five years. She earned her bachelor’s degree in Communication from the University of Arizona where she focused on immigrant patterns and social justice in the media. Gabriela earned her master’s degree in social work from the University of Denver with a certificate of social work with Latinxs.

 

Prior to joining the Denver Public Schools Prevention team she worked at the University of Denver as the Alcohol and Other Drug Prevention Coordinator. During her time there she was able to work closely with The Center for Multicultural Excellence to put on the first Segundo de Febrero event in Denver. Currently, she still advises the Latina based, multicultural sorority, Sigma Lambda Gamma and is an adjunct faculty member at the Graduate School of Social Work where she has taught Power, Privilege and Oppression.

 

Gabriela’s professional interests include: historical trauma, social justice education, critical race theory, razalogia, loving as a way to cultivate a learning environment and trauma informed care.

 

Photo of DenverRAP employee Leah Raffa

Leah Raffa

Leah has worked as a Prevention Specialist for the Denver Office of Drug Strategy since July 2014. Prior to her time at the Denver Office of Drug Strategy she spent a year as an intern for Denver Human Services. She brings expertise in marketing, public relations and communications to the organization. Leah will be working at Hill Middle School helping to develop and implement their prevention programming.

Leah earned her bachelor’s degree in Marketing from Metropolitan State University in May of 2014.

Contact Information:
Leah Raffa
Community Prevention Specialist, Whole Child Supports
leah_raffa@dpsk12.org