Pence announces $125,000 grant awarded to SAAC program
U.S. Congressman Mike Pence announced earlier this week that the Adams County Substance Abuse Awareness Council was awarded a $125,000 grant by the Office of National Drug Control Policy under the Drug Free Communities Support Program.
"This grant will be used to help Adams County in its goal of creating a healthy, safe and drug free community," observed Pence. "I commend the Adams County Substance Abuse Awareness Council for being one of 87 new grantees selected from 452 applicants."
"Coalitions receiving DFC funds are expected to work with leaders within their communities to identify and address local youth substance abuse problems and create sustainable community-level change through environmental strategies," said SAAC official Beth Ralston. "The goals of the Drug Free Communities
Support Program are to increase community collaboration and reduce youth substance abuse."
Ralston noted that SAAC includes members from the following sectors of our community: youth, parents, business, school, youth-serving organizations, law enforcement, religious, civic, state, government and other organizations involved in reducing substance abuse. SAAC has a community partnership with each of the three county public schools: Adams Central, North Adams and South Adams. In addition, there are partnerships with the Anti-Tobacco Committee and the SAAC Parent Advisory Committee. All of these partnerships are working toward the same goals.
Ralston noted that the federal grant is actually a five-year $625,000 grant divided equally into $125,000 each of the five years.
"We have to reapply each year, but due to the fact that the grant has been approved, we have the opportunity and an open door to continue to apply," said Ralston.
To qualify for these matching grants, awardees must have at least a six-month history of working together on youth substance use reduction initiatives, have representation from 12 required sectors of the community, develop a long-term plan to reduce youth substance abuse and participate in the National Evaluation of the DFC program.
"The Adams County Substance Abuse Awareness Council wishes to thank all our partners for the work that has been done and continues to be done within the community towards reducing the negative affects of substance abuse," said Ralston. "Due to this community work, we were able to secure this grant."
Locally, the South Adams SAAC group is promoting various ways to publicize the mission of the organization at home football games. At the first game, the group promoted drug-free living with chuck-a-duck contest. Participants would spin the magic wheel and would answer a question that corresponded with the color they landed on. A correctly answered question gave the participant a numbered "rubber ducky" to hold on to until halftime of the game.
After the announcer called for all "duck chuckers" to the railing at the front of the home stands, the contestants were shown five hoop targets lying on the track, including one solitary orange pylon. When the whistle blew, everybody chucked their duck toward the targets. Any duck that landed inside the hoops was matched with its thrower's number and they were given a coupon for a free candy bar at the concession stand. The one closest to the pylon, Corbin Swygart, was awarded a hot, fresh pizza, following the game.
"It was fun to see the kids lined up ready to answer the questions," commented senior Arie Teeter. "It's a good feeling to know we are expanding their knowledge about how harmful drugs can be."
Evan Liechty, a junior, said that it was "really cool" seeing the 130 people who participated in promoting "no substance abuse."
"It was cool to get the opportunity to teach kids about how drugs are bad for you, especially in this public place," commented senior Charlie Hirschy.
"Being a 'newbie' to the SAAC team, it is really cool to see the team come together and make a difference so drug use decreases in our community," commented junior Alexis Ford.
Sheila Graber, staff sponsor, said that the team did an awesome job pulling the project together. She was excited about the way they tuned in the younger kids, and the way that the SAAC members communicated the message of reducing the negative affects of alcohol, tobacco and other drugs in the community.
"All the supplies for the chuck-a-duck were purchased with grant money to promote awareness and educate people," said Graber. There are startling statistics for Adams County that students in grades six, seven and eight (some younger) are faced with the choice to partake or avoid substances, many habits start in this age range, especially with spit tobacco.
"Another focus of this project is to alert parents and partner with them to provide homes that are safe for their children to hang out, free from substance access," continued Graber. "You can expect to see chuck-a-duck at future home contests for other sports. Our team wants to prove there are great alternatives to using substances, and I am most privileged to work with this amazing group of student role-models."
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