Holyoke Youth Taskforce receives $125,000 grant
Date: 9/7/2011Sept. 7, 2011
By G. Michael Dobbs
BOSTON Federal officials announced last week the Holyoke Youth Taskforce has been designated to receive a $125,000 grant from the Drug Free Communities Support Program (DFC) to help curb youth substance use.
Speaking of the groups funded in his district, Rep. John Olver said, “These organizations work hard to create drug-free communities and provide young people with knowledge about drugs and alternatives to drug use. In these difficult economic times, it is important that we continue to make smart investments for our children’s futures.”
The DFC program was created in 1997 with the Drug-Free Communities Act of 1997. The White House Office of National Drug Control Policy in partnership with the Substance Abuse Mental Health Services Administration directs it.
Rebecca Masters, coordinator for the Holyoke Youth Taskforce and Holyoke Youth Commission, explained to Reminder Publications
, the grant is the eighth in a series of 10 annual grants that have been used to support a number of programs to increase parental involvement and decrease the use of drugs and teen violence.
Masters said the goal of the Taskforce has been to make environmental changes to assist as many teens and parents as possible. Among those activities has been conducting prevention needs assessments for sixth, eighth, 10th and 12th grade students to see what drug and violence issues they are facing.
The assessments have shown there is a noticeable drop-off in communication between parents and young teens between the sixth and the eighth grades and the Taskforce has responded with a campaign aimed at parents to encourage them to continue talking with their teens.
Another effort has been to try to stem the occurrence of house parties in the city. Masters explained house parties which have resulted in two deaths are used for gang recruitment and for the illegal sale of alcohol and drugs.
The Taskforce has also been working with city officials in enforcing limits on signage advertising tobacco products and alcohol in city stores.
With the limit on this grant looming, Masters explained the Taskforce has begun looking at alternative sources of funding.
“Drugs threaten our kids, but these organizations are on the frontlines working with kids and whole neighborhoods to fight back and this investment saves lives and money in the long run,” Sen. John Kerry said.