Drug-free coalition to focus on youth
Submitted to the Tribune
Are you concerned about South Lake Tahoe’s party and drug culture and want to help decide how a new grant can be used to create lasting change in our community? Be a part of the solution and join other community members who want to provide change around drinking and drug use for youth in our community.
In September, Tahoe Youth & Family Services was awarded a Federal Drug Free Communities grant on behalf of the South Tahoe Drug Free Coalition. The coalition was awarded $125,000 per year for the next five years to prevent and reduce youth substance use and change the culture in South Lake Tahoe to reduce adult use as well. Locally acquired data highlights the need for this grant in our city as evident by the staggering number of youth who regularly use marijuana and the large number of students who do not see it as harmful. The percentage of 11th-graders in South Lake Tahoe who reported smoking marijuana almost daily was more than double the statewide average, according to the California Healthy Kids Survey 2011-12. Also, while 45 percent of 11th-graders believe that there is great harm in drinking alcohol once or twice a week, only 28 percent of 11th-graders believe that there is great harm in smoking marijuana once or twice a week. Overall, seventh-grade and 11th-grade students think that it is less harmful to smoke marijuana on a regular basis than drink alcohol.
In addition to supporting existing programs like The Drug Store Project and Drug Take Back Days, the coalition also plans to focus on prevention strategies in the schools to reduce youth use and increase consequences for drug use. The coalition hopes to modify local policies around marijuana and prescription drug use and also start a new marketing campaign to provide further information on the negative impacts of drug use.
The coalition has a strong team of volunteers and staff to accomplish these goals. It is made up of dedicated community members who are invested in creating and maintaining positive change in our city. Members include parents, the business community, law enforcement, school officials, local organizations and healthcare workers.
The Coalition wants to be as representative of the community as possible and is looking for additional members. We invite you to try out a monthly meeting or contact us if you have ideas to share. The coalition meets monthly at the Al Tahoe/Boys and Girls Club, 1100 Lyons Ave., the second Monday of the month at 3:30 p.m. The next meeting will be held Feb. 10. For more information on the South Tahoe Drug Free Coalition, contact me at Melody@tahoeyouth.org or 530-541-2445. We will be posting current Drug Free Coalition news and updates, help for parents, and valuable information concerning drugs in the area on our website, http://www.bedrugsafe.com.
— Melody Easton is the South Tahoe Drug Free Coalition coordinator for Tahoe Youth and Family Services.