U.S. Rep. Nick Rahall (D-W.Va.), along with Senators Jay Rockefeller and Joe Manchin (both D-W.Va.), announced Thursday that federal funding has been awarded to three community coalitions working to reduce youth substance abuse in southern West Virginia
"Every penny we put into drug abuse prevention pays us back by the pound. These federal funds will allow our proven local leaders, especially those working with our youth, to carry on their effective work," said Rahall, a senior member of the Congressional Caucus on Prescription Drug Abuse. "They not only know the street corners to watch, they know the leaders of our schools, churches, community centers and even playgrounds who can help encourage our kids. We are fighting drug abuse on many fronts these days, and every young person we can spare from the devastating costs of drug abuse, is a victory for families and the entire community."
"Helping our children grow up drug free should be a goal for all of us," said Rockefeller, who has been a leader in working to reduce prescription drug abuse in West Virginia. "This funding will help leaders in our towns work to stem the tide of drug abuse. The impacts of addiction are so widespread -- touching families, friends, and neighbors. But by working together, as these coalitions are doing, we can fight back against this epidemic."
"In communities all over our state, I have visited with so many young people whose friends, families and neighborhoods have been just devastated by drug abuse, and there is nothing more heartbreaking than a young child asking for help to get their older brother or sister off the stuff," Manchin said. "I am so appreciative of the many different individuals and groups that are working to end the drug epidemic that we face, and this funding will help in the cause. As your Senator, I am determined to do everything I can to help those young children grow up drug-free, with opportunities for a bright future in their own communities."
The continuation funding grants announced today have been awarded through the FY 2012 Drug-Free Communities (DFC) Support Program administered by the Office of National Drug Control Policy (ONDCP) to Community Connections, Inc., $125,000 for Creating Opportunities for Youth Coalition in Bluefield; the Strong through our Plan (S.T.O.P) Coalition in Gilbert, $125,000; and $125,000 to the United Way of the River Cities, Inc. for the Cabell County Substance Abuse Prevention Partnership in Huntington.
"America's success in the 21st century depends in part on our ability to help young people make decisions that will keep them healthy and safe," said Gil Kerlikowske, Director of National Drug Control Policy. "We congratulate the coalitions on their work to raise a generation of young people equipped to remain drug free and ready to prosper in school, in their communities, and in the workplace. While law enforcement efforts will always serve a vital role in keeping our communities safe, we know that stopping drug use before it ever begins is always the smartest and most cost-effective way to reduce drug use and its consequences."
The DFC program provides grants of up to $625,000 over 5 years to community coalitions that facilitate citizen participation in local drug prevention efforts. Coalitions are composed of community leaders, parents, youth, teachers, religious and fraternal organizations, health care and business professionals, law enforcement, the media, and others working together at the local level.