December 30, 2015 Edition

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Grant will help with
ATOD's mission

Gretchen Hunt
Editor

The Lawrence County ATOD (Alcohol, Tobacco and Other Drugs) Coalition is gearing up for 2016.

The coalition plans to implement programming focused on youth prescription abuse and youth marijuana use thanks to a five-year grant received through the Lawrence County Sheriff's Department.

The county will receive $125,000 in federal funds each year through the Drug Free Communities Support Program Grant. Donations and in-kind contributions will be used to match the grant 100 percent.

"That means $250,000 in prevention dollars for Lawrence County each year," Alison Johnson, who is serving as project coordinator for the grant, said. "We appreciate the LCSD's support as the fiscal agent for this grant."

Previous grants used to implement programs through the ATOD Coalition focused on underage drinking, and statistics show that message had an impact.

According to Arkansas Prevention Needs Assessment (APNA) data collected through surveying Lawrence County high school students during the 2014-15 school year, binge drinking among 10th and 12th-grade students has dropped from the 2011-12 year.

In 2011-12, 33.3 percent of 12th-graders reported having used alcohol within the past 30 days, while in 2014-15 only 29.2 percent reported having done so.

The 10th-grade statistics are even more dramatic with only 22 percent reporting having used alcohol in the past 30 days in the 2014-15 survey, compared to 29.9 percent in 2011-12.

"We feel like the data shows we did have success in that area," Johnson said.

The new grant will help provide media campaigns, parent programming, in-school programming and coalition development for at least five years. Johnson said there is the possibility of receiving an additional five-year grant at the completion of the first grant period.

Johnson, who is a full-time employee under the grant, is joined by Cloyis Daughhetee, a part-time employee, who is serving as program director. Daughhetee will oversee the fiscal part of the grant, while Johnson implements the programs.

One goal is to create or help build up drug free clubs in each of the schools in the county. Increasing membership in the coalition itself, including youth representation, is also a priority.

"We need more members," Johnson said. "Getting people involved is a major focus right now."

Amber Adams is the chair of the coalition, which meets on the fourth Friday of each month at the Lawrence County Courthouse. The next meeting will be at noon on Jan. 22 in the courthouse conference room.

Among plans for 2016 are parenting classes and the Run Like A Boss 5K, both of which will be held in the spring.

For more information on the grant or the coalition's efforts, or to become a part of the coalition, contact Johnson at 870-759-1914 or alisonoglesby@yahoo.com.

The coalition also has a Facebook page and can be found online at www.lawrencecountyarkansas.com/ATOD.

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