Pubdate: Thu, 28 Dec 2006
Source: Sierra Sun (Truckee, CA)
Copyright: 2006 Sierra Sun
Author: Kara Fox


A Group of Kings Beach Teens Will Become Movie Producers, Actors and 
Camera Operators This January -- All in an Effort to Educate the 
Community About the Dangers of Methamphetamine.

In November, Placer County handed out six grants  totaling $10,781 
for production of a DVD for the  county's campaign "It's a Fact: Meth 
is our Problem."  Sierra High School in Truckee received one of 
the  grants, while Kings Beach-based Creciendo Unidos, which  focuses 
on providing alcohol- and drug-free activities  for Latino youth, 
received another.

"It is based on the idea to keep Tahoe drug- and  gang-free. Our goal 
is to make it realistic and  straight forward," Diana 
Cristales-David, a Creciendo  Unidos facilitator, said of the video. 
"A lot of kids are struggling. It's gotten to the point where I 
know  so many kids who have used or are using [drugs]. I see  it in 
so many families."

Cristales-David said the teens involved in Creciendo  Unidos will 
work on the video, including those who have  had problems with drugs 
in the past. She said the group  will try to show the video in 
schools, at the Boys &  Girls Club, the local television station, or 
wherever they can show it.

"If kids feel like they belong to a group like  Creciendo Unidos, 
then they won't feel like they have  to join a gang," said Sylvia 
Doignon, another Creciendo  Unidos facilitator.

Doignon said the group will begin making the video in  January and 
target it toward teens and families.

"It's been great to see the kids involved in a  different type of 
prevention," said Placer County  Community Services Officer Kristen 
Mann. "They are  thinking out of the box."

Placer County's new meth prevention program aims to  bring awareness 
to increased meth use, according to the  grant application.

"It's the fastest growing drug of abuse in all of 
our  neighborhoods," Placer County Sheriff Ed Bonner said in  a news 
release. "It's easy to make, it's cheap, it's  available, it's 
odorless and tasteless. It can be  smoked and there's no odor. It can 
also be snorted,  ingested or injected."

About 4 percent of teens in Placer County have used  methamphetamine, 
according to Placer County Health  Officer Dr. Richard Burton. That 
is approximately 600  kids, Burton said.

Alan Hayashi, Placer County's prevention supervisor,  said the 
county's goal is to have youth send messages  to other youth 
regarding drugs and alcohol, rather than  adults delivering that 
message. The grant Sierra High  School received was also awarded by 
the county for production of an anti-methamphetamine video, to 
be  produced by teens for teens.

"Meth is one drug that seems to be cropping up lately,"  Hayashi 
said. "It's out there."

Placer County joined other jurisdictions nationwide to  celebrate 
National Methamphetamine Awareness Day in  November. Schools are also 
stepping up meth education,  starting as early as elementary school.

Stephanie Novick, Placer County's D.A.R.E officer,  shows fifth 
graders before and after photos of meth  users, and Placer County 
Community Services Officer  Melinda Maehler will present the issue to 
sixth,  seventh and eighth graders at North Tahoe Middle School 
during a drug and alcohol class in January.

In addition to Placer County's programs, Creciendo  Unidos will ring 
in the new year with its own "Keep  Tahoe Drug and Gang Free" campaign.

"Some of the ideas we're looking at is the  juxtaposition of the 
beauty of Lake Tahoe and drug  use," said Cristales-David.

What is Friday Night Live?

The California Friday Night Live (FNL) Program, which  is funding a 
portion of Placer County's anti-meth  campaign, was developed in 
1984. It began as a pilot  program dedicated to reducing the number 
of deaths and  injuries caused by teen motorists driving under the 
influence of alcohol and other drugs.

During the first years of the program, the youth  involved were 
organized into high school-based student  action groups. The success 
rate was so great that in  1988 a statewide office was established.

By 1990, the number of counties with the FNL Program  had increased 
300 percent and the main focus of the  program began to shift from 
one of preventing drinking  and driving among teens to promoting 
healthy lifestyles  free of alcohol, tobacco, or other substance 
abuse  among youth.

- -- From the Friday Night Live Web site,
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