ADAPAO Award 2020 Recipient: Honey Bell-Bey

Posted on: December 28, 2020 10:00 am

Honey Bell-Bey is the recipient of the ADAPAO Prevention Visionary Award for 2020. This award honors an individual for exemplary efforts to advance prevention across Ohio. Honey has been inspiring Ohio's prevention community to integrate the arts into our prevention work and to rethink community-based prevention and the role of prevention professionals as conveners and community catalysts.

Honey is an Ohio Certified Prevention Specialist and has been Director of Youth Services for the Cleveland Urban Minority Alcoholism and Drug Abuse Outreach Program (UMADAOP) for many years. Honey and UMADAOP’s Youth Services team weave together evidence-based prevention curricula, performance arts, and cultural learning, all built on a foundation of fostering caring, supportive relationships with adults, to build protective factors among the youth served by her agency.

Honey is also the Founder and Director of Distinguished Gentlemen of Spoken Word, a group of African-American boys and young men who study performance poetry. Honey formed the group in 2003 with a goal of elevating and showcasing the talents of the young men in Cleveland’s African-American community, while also expanding the reach of poetry and the spoken word. Along with learning and mastering artistic and narrative talents, the Distinguished Gentlemen learn a host of other skills, from cooking to leadership.

Honey also created Elegant Ladies of Poetic Thought, a similar program for girls and young women, and Pint-Sized Poets, for kids under the age of eight. To these young poets learning self-regulation through pauses, breathing, and stillness, their teacher has another title: “Miss Honey.”

While Honey’s efforts have been grounded in the Cleveland community, word has spread of both the innovative nature of Honey’s work, as well as her specific talents as a poet and speaker.

Honey’s skills as a trainer have long been recognized. She was selected as one of five initial Master Trainers of the then-new Substance Abuse Prevention Skills Training – or SAPST – curriculum when it was introduced to Ohio in 2012, and her sphere of influence has rippled exponentially from the locus of Cleveland and Cuyahoga County to affect her prevention colleagues, as well as youth and communities across Ohio.

Honey's work with poetry and spoken word has presented new means to view, engage with, and integrate prevention, especially with youth. In the last few years, Honey has become an in-demand presenter for youth prevention events throughout Ohio, utilizing poetry to build connection, enhance social-emotional learning, and access identity and purpose.

Honey integrates individual connection and passion with prevention science, recognizing that personal investment and self-knowledge are protective factors that anchor individual-focused prevention education and skill development

Through Honey’s example, Ohio’s prevention community is invited to be expansive in how we conceptualize the delivery of prevention, while staying rooted to the science that underlies effective practice.

Honey added another title in January 2020: Poet Laureate of Cuyahoga County. She is the first individual to hold the Poet Laureate designation in Cuyahoga County in 16 years. We are also confident she is the first credentialed prevention professional to serve as Poet Laureate in any Ohio community. 

Honey finds space for imaginative approaches to prevention work that encourage our community to explore and innovate. In doing so, she is reframing prevention for Ohio's prevention community.