Troup Prevention Coalition gets five years of funding
by Matthew Strother News editor
Troup County Prevention Coalition recently received approval for five more years of federal funding to continue alcohol and drug awareness programs in Troup County.
The group was one of only three in the state to be approved for a second round of funding from the federal government, totaling $625,000. The prevention coalition is funded mainly through a Drug-Free Communities grant which is awarded in five-year increments.
“We just finished our fifth year of funding, so at that point we had to go back to the federal government to get grant funds for the next five years,” said Troup County Prevention Coalition coordinator Jamie Daniel. “Getting funding for years six through 10 is harder. You have to prove that you’ve used the money you received wisely and that you’ve done what you said you would do. It’s very competitive … We are one of only three in the state who got that.”
The group also obtains funding from the state for the Alcohol Prevention Initiative, which allows it to put more of the federal dollars to work on drug abuse and teen pregnancy prevention education, Daniel said. The group also received a new grant from Wake Forest University to help push a city ordinance about hosting underage house parties.
Daniel said the biggest problem Troup County has right now is “shoulder tapping,” underage people asking adults to buy alcohol for them. The coalition is trying to push more awareness of the consequences of furnishing alcohol to minors.
The coalition meets once a month with representatives throughout the community to plan activities and programs in schools. Daniel said the coalition’s work has helped, and they have noted a raise in the age of onset of when students have their first alcoholic drink.
“When we began, the average age of onset in Troup County was 12.5 years old, which we tracked through surveys,” Daniel said. … “Now we see it at 13.06. That’s just half a year, but it’s the difference between starting in sixth grade or starting in seventh grade, and we’re proud of that. Part of what we did to make that happen, was our Social Norman campaign in middle schools.”
The Social Norman campaign uses real facts on alcohol to help drive home the negative impact it can have. Daniel said the group has seen a real change of perception in schools on drug and alcohol since it began operating.
The group also puts up posters in the local high schools, and hosted several town hall meetings with guest speakers who talked about the effects on the brain and dangers or underage drinking.
The coalition supplies speakers to middle schools to discuss drug and alcohol abuse. They also issue surveys to teachers to gauge what they feel they need to know for drug and alcohol prevention education.
The coalition also partnered with the Sheriff’s Office in a statewide initiative for a prescription drug take-back day. People with expired prescriptions can bring them to the jail to be disposed of, preventing them from falling into the hands of youth. Their last collection day netted 60 pounds of prescriptions and in spring the groups plan to make the collection a year-round function at the jail.
Daniel said with the renewal of its five-year federal grant, the group can continue to make improvements to drug and alcohol prevention awareness in Troup County.
“I think we’ve come a long way in five years and we have a lot in the five years ahead of us,” she said. “I’m excited, excited, excited that we will hopefully be able to raise the age of onset, hopefully to 14. … If I can get it to 14 at the end of this five years, I will be proud.”
The coalition has two paid staff, Daniel and Veronica Dowdell, who is assistant project coordinator. The group’s supervisor, Mandy Hill, left Sept. 30 after two years. Jack Eatman of the Troup County Family Connection has acted as the group’s fiscal agent until it switched under Twin Cedars Youth and Family Services, but Eatman still serves as an adviser.
More information on the coalition is available at Facebook.com/troupprevention.
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