Pubdate: Thu, 13 Sep 2012
Source: Santa Ynez Valley News (CA)
Copyright: 2012 Lee Central Coast Newspapers
Author: Julian J. Ramos


Members of the Santa Ynez Valley Youth Coalition are celebrating the
award of two federal grants, totaling $825,000 over five years, to
continue their fight against substance abuse by young people.

Formerly known as the Santa Ynez Valley Coalition to Promote Drug Free
Youth, the local group is one of 57 recipients nationwide - and one of
just five in California - of a grant from the Drug Free Communities
program, coalition coordinator Mary Conway announced.

Funding under the new grant will be $125,000 a year for the next five
years, a total of $625,000, which is an overall increase of $125,000
from the group's previous five-year, $500,000 grant that expired in

The new award was announced Aug. 24 by the office of National Drug
Control Policy.

In addition, the coalition was notified Sept. 6 that it has received
another $200,000 - $50,000 per year over four years - from the STOP,
or Sober Truth on Preventing Underage Drinking, Act that will go
specifically toward alcohol-use prevention and education.

"It is wonderful to now know that we have the resources necessary to
continue our efforts here in our community to help our kids reach
their potential and avoid the devastating pitfalls of substance
abuse," Conway said.

Founded in 2005, the 30-member coalition is dedicated to promoting
healthy lifestyles and preventing or reducing alcohol and other
substance abuse among young people through partnerships with law
enforcement, city councils and schools.

In the past few years, the coalition, a committee of the nonprofit
group Santa Ynez Valley People Helping People, spearheaded adoption of
a social-host ordinance in Buellton, Solvang and Santa Barbara County.

As an example of the policy change, the ordinance imposes fines on
adults who knowingly provide a place where underage drinking occurs.

In Buellton, the coalition played a key role in the adoption of a
second-hand smoke ordinance that took effect in July, and adoption of
a temporary moratorium on new cigarette, tobacco and "head shops" last

"Efforts to keep our youth drug-free are critical to healthy and safe
communities here in the Santa Ynez Valley," Conway said. "The
Drug-Free Communities Support Program recognizes the great potential
of the Valley Youth Coalition to help save young peoples' lives. This
new funding will allow the coalition to continue to organize and
mobilize our community to prevent youth substance use."

The coalition will continue to address specifically the drugs most
commonly used by local youth - alcohol, marijuana, tobacco, and
non-medical use of prescription drugs, according to Conway.

"Great strides have been made during the past five years to reduce
youth access to these drugs, educating our youth and families, and
mobilizing our local leaders," she said. "This new DFC grant allows us
to continue to build on these successes and strengthen our community
in its effort to secure the health and well being of our youth and
their future."

In November, the coalition is expected to hold a strategy session to
examine its work plans for the upcoming year.

Lois Craig, coalition project director, wrote the grant application,
and the coalition's sustainability work group led a pledge drive
seeking community donations as part of a contingency plan.

The local fundraising was meant to continue the coalition's work for
another year without losing any momentum with students and their
families in case there was no federal funding available.

The drive was about $5,000 short of its $125,000 goal, Conway said.
With the grant secured, pledged amounts will not be collected.
However, some people who pledged have chosen to donate anyway, Conway

The coalition is sponsored by People Helping People, which provides
staffing and administrative support for its programs and services.

For more information about the group, visit
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