announced on Monday that the city's and the Communities That Care (MICTC) coalition had been awarded a five-year federal grant to continue local efforts to reduce underage alcohol and drug abuse on Mercer Island.
The grant of $625,000 allows the MICTC to both continue and expand upon an underage drinking prevention campaign over the past five years that civic leaders credit with — among other achievements — contributing to a 10 percent reduction in seniors who . Work on reducing underage drinking by the MICTC and Youth and Family Services eventually led to the in 2011 that fines property owners who host underage drinking parties.
"Over the next five years, we will continue to work toward shifting the culture on Mercer Island to one that embraces prevention principles, support prevention leadership development, empower youth and reduces rates of underage drinking and drug use," said Mercer Island Youth and Family Services Administrative Manager Derek Franklin, who also advises the MICTC. “The Drug-Free Communities Support Program recognizes the great work of MICTC to help save young people’s lives. This new funding will allow the coalition to continue to mobilize and organize their community to prevent youth substance use.”
The award is part of $7.9 million in new Drug-Free Communities Support Program (DFC) grants to 60 communities and 6 new DFC Mentoring grants across the US. Office of National Drug Control Policy (ONDCP), led by Director Gil Kerlikowske. Mercer Island's CTC is just one of one of three drug-free prevention coalitions funded for the next five years in Washington state.
MICTC is administered by Mercer Island Youth and Family Services, a department of the City of Mercer Island. It is composed of community leaders, parents, youth, school administrators, religious and fraternal organizations, health care and business professionals, law enforcement, the media, and others working together at the local level (Ed. Note: Mercer Island Patch is a member of the MICTC coalition). Franklin also credited city CTC coordinator Sharon Broz and volunteer Debora Boeck on helping write a successful grant for the project.
Mercer Island Youth and Family Services Director Cindy Goodwin said the grant would help fund the MICTC to specifically work on addressing not just underage alcohol, but also marijuana, prescription drug, and tobacco use on Mercer Island. Goodwin also said she planned to direct some of the money to be spent on a "public information campaign" to inform the public on State Initiative 502, which would legalize marijuana sales and possession in certain amounts at the local level.
"There's been a lot of medical marijuana being used on the Island under the misperception that it's somehow safer — that's of grave concern to us," she said. "We really want to educate the public on what that could do to our local youth."
Kerlikowske, a former Seattle police chief, announced the grants are in addition to the nearly $76.7 million in Continuation grants simultaneously released to 608 currently funded DFC coalitions and 18 DFC Mentoring Continuation coalitions.
“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 Kerlikowske. “We congratulate this coalition on its 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 was created by the Drug-Free Communities Act of 1997, and reauthorized by Congress in 2001 and 2006. Since 1998, ONDCP has awarded more than 2,000 Drug-Free Communities grants to local communities in all 50 states, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, Guam, Palau, American Samoa, the U.S. Virgin Islands, and the Federated States of Micronesia.
In April, President Obama released the 2012 National Drug Control Strategy, the Administration’s primary blueprint for drug policy in the United States. The new Strategy promotes a “third way” approach to drug policy that supports alternatives to a law-enforcement-centric “war on drugs” or drug legalization.
The Strategy also outlines specific actions to be undertaken by the Federal Government to reform U.S. drug policy through innovative and evidence-based public health and safety approaches, which include expanding access to drug treatment and recovery support programs, breaking the cycle of drug use, crime, and incarceration, and supporting youth outreach programs that prevent drug use before it begins.
The rate of overall drug use in the United States has declined by roughly 30 percent since 1979. To build on this progress and support public health approaches to drug control, the Obama Administration has requested over $10 billion in FY 2013 for drug prevention programs and support for expanding access to drug treatment for people suffering from substance use disorders. This will build upon the $30 billion already spent over the past 3 years on drug use prevention and treatment.
For more information about the Office of National Drug Control Policy or the Drug Free Communities Support Program, visit: www.WhiteHouse.gov/ONDCP
(Ed. Note: The information in this article is from a press release from the City of Mercer Island and Mercer Island Youth and Family Serivices.)