Agencies receive funds to fight drugs

WHEELING — The Community Impact Coalition of Wheeling and the Brooke-Hancock Family Resource Network in Weirton have been awarded a $125,000 federal grants to help prevent youth substance abuse.

The federal funding is allocated by the White House Office of National Drug Control Policy’s Drug-Free Communities Support Program.

Martha Polinsky, senior project coordinator for the Community Impact Coalition, said her organization has been awarded a grant for its ninth year of funding in a 10-year cycle through its managing agency, Youth Services System Inc. of Wheeling.

Polinsky said, “Impact applied and was awarded the grant in 2009 and continues to be funded due to its ability to levy community leaders and implement research-based strategies. The coalition has implemented hundreds of activities over the past eight years to reduce youth alcohol, marijuana and opiate use.”

The Brooke-Hancock Family Resource Network is getting money as the fiscal agent for Advocates for Substance Abuse Prevention, the community coalition of Brooke and Hancock counties.

Mary Ball, ASAP coordinator, said the grant represents its eighth year of funding in a 10-year cycle. She said, “It’s great that we’ve able to continue with our funding. … This year, we’re going to do a lot more community-based activities and outreach in the community.”

ASAP uses the funds to address underage drinking, prescription drug use and abuse, safe disposal of unused medications and marijuana awareness.

Ball said it is concerning that the perception of marijuana’s risk and harm has dropped by 22 percent among students in Brooke and Hancock counties over the past four years. She said ASAP collects data from students in eighth, 10th and 12th grades every two years.

In 2013, the first survey showed 85 percent of eighth-graders in Hancock and Brooke counties considered marijuana use to be risky and harmful. But in 2015, when the same students were surveyed as 10th-graders, only 51 percent cited potential risk and harm of marijuana.

This year, as 12th-graders, only 33 percent of the same students thought marijuana was risky and harmful.

“That’s a problem,” Ball said. “We’re trying to get some education so the whole community, not just our youth, can make healthy choices.”

On a brighter note, she said the surveys show students now have a greater perception of the risk and harm of prescription drug use and underage drinking.

This week, U.S. Sens. Shelley Moore Capito, R-W.Va., and Joe Manchin, D-W.Va., announced a total of about $1.1 million in federal funding awarded to nine agencies from the Drug-Free Communities Support Program, including the two Northern Panhandle agencies.

Other individual awards were made to the Jackson County Health Department, Ripley; Kanawha Communities That Care, Charleston; Morgan County Partnership, Berkeley Springs; Partnership of African American Churches, Institute; Regional Family Resource Network, Charleston; Strong Through Our Plan, Gilbert; and United Way of the River Cities, Huntington.

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