The Drug Free Communities Grant program is in its 6th year of a 10 year cycle. The grant has brought $500,000 to Boone County to date, and each additional grant year will bring $125,000. The grant is matched at 100%, meaning for every dollar we receive, we have to demonstrate receiving additional community monies, volunteer time, or in-kind resources to match it. In years 7-10 the match increases to 150%. The grant money is used by Boone County Project SAFE (Substance Abuse Free Environment) to focus on substance abuse prevention issues in the entire county. While our focus is primarily on youth, our mission extends to reduce substance abuse and related problems to all citizens of Boone County.
The focus of the grant money is on environmental strategies, or strategies that impact the entire population, not just pockets of the population served in small group settings. One example we employ is the compliance check program, where we send minors into licensed establishments in an attempt to buy alcohol or tobacco products. When this program began, almost 50% of the county’s establishments made sales to minors. With this on-going program the sales rate to minors has dropped to under 20%! Additionally, we offer free training to all County merchants through the Boone Police Department to help them succeed in this effort to reduce availability of these products to minors.
The SAFE coalition has been in existence since 1991 and anyone who shares our vision can join. We meet monthly in Boone and share ideas and resources. We tend to focus on underage drinking because:
- A person’s brain does not stop developing until their mid-20s. During development alcohol negatively affects all parts of the brain, including coordination, emotional control, thinking, decision-making, hand-eye movement, speech and memory.
- Adolescent drinkers perform worse in school and have an increased risk of social problems, depression, suicidal thoughts, and violence.
- Those who start drinking before age 15 (our average age of onset in Boone County is 13.5) are 12 times more likely to be unintentionally injured while under the abuse of alcohol, 7 times more likely to be in a motor vehicle crash after drinking, 10 times more likely to have been in a physical fight, and twice as likely to have unplanned and unprotected sex.
- And so on… these youth are our future and worth the fight!
If you would like more information please contact Kelly Wooden at 515-433-4917.