Pubdate: Sat, 29 Aug 2009
Source: Winston-Salem Journal (NC)
Copyright: 2009 Piedmont Publishing Co. Inc.
Note: The Journal does not publish LTEs from writers outside its 
circulation area
Author: Paul Garber


Gathering at Dash Field Paid for With Seized Drug Money

Today, more than 500 parents and children will take part in activities
at Wake Forest Baseball Park to help youngsters learn about the
dangers of drug and alcohol abuse.

They will also be given free Winston-Salem Dash hats and T-shirts for
taking a short quiz about those risks.

And it is being paid for by the very people who peddle those illegal

The Parent Kid Challenge is the latest activity sponsored by a
partnership between the Winston-Salem Police Department, the Dash
baseball team, and Drug Free North Carolina, an anti-drug advocacy

So far this year, more than 1,000 children have taken part in the
program, which is being paid for with $30,000 in drug forfeiture
money, Police Chief Scott Cunningham said.

The money pays for tickets to the game, Dash hats and T-shirts, and
food during the game for at-risk youths, he said.

"We're using money seized from drug dealers to do something positive,"
Cunningham said.

"I think it's a great use of the money."

Cunningham said that the at-risk youths were identified through
community groups that the police work with, such as the Salvation Army
Boys & Girls Clubs and the YMCA.

The Parent Kid Challenge will run from 10 a.m. to noon and will
include baseball drills and a chance for the youngsters to meet the

But you don't have to be enrolled in the program to

The Dash will play the Lynchburg Hillcats at 7 p.m. Anyone who takes
the 10-item quiz at the game will be given a Dash hat and T-shirt
regardless of how well they answer the questions.

The idea for the program started last year, when Robin Lindner of Drug
Free North Carolina approached the police department and the Dash
about working together to get the message out about the dangers of

Lindner said that a baseball game provided an ideal family setting for
children and their families to have a conversation about drugs.

"It's motherhood and apple pie," she said.

"A ballpark is one of the most affordable ways for families to do
things together."

Lindner said that children are 50 percent less likely to use drugs
when their parents take the time to talk to them about the risks.

But only about a third of parents typically do so, Lindner

"If you can get them through their teen years without doing drugs,
they are likely to never try them as an adult," she said.

Dash President Kevin Terry said he thought about waiting until the new
park was opened but decided that the program was too important to put
on hold.

"It wasn't about the ballpark, it was about the message," Terry

"We feel we've made an impact."

The new ballpark should be ready by April, he said, and he wants the
program to continue there.

Cunningham said that the program is unique to Winston-Salem, and that
he would like to see other communities adopt it. 
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