Iroquois School District Awarded $625,000 Grant to Combat Substance Abuse Among Youth
Thompson, school leaders announce 5 years of federal funding through Drug Free Communities Support Program for school coalition
LAWRENCE PARK TOWNSHIP, Pa. – U.S. Representative Glenn ‘GT’ Thompson today joined leaders at the Iroquois School District to announce a five-year federal grant to combat and prevent substance abuse among youth through education and community engagement.
The Iroquois School District will receive $125,000 a year through the Drug-Free Communities (DFC) Support Program for five years. The total award for the duration of the program is $625,000. The grant will provide the Iroquois School District community coalition, #PYDONEFAMILY, funding to prevent youth substance use, including prescription drugs, marijuana, tobacco, and alcohol.
Rep. Thompson gathered with the following individuals to make the announcement: Iroquois School District Superintendent Shane Murray; Grant Program Director and school Psychologist Maria Modzelewski; and Coalition Team Member, John Comstock, Supervisor at Erie County Office of Drug and Alcohol Abuse.
Numerous other people gathered for the announcement including school district leaders, elected officials, community leaders, representatives from faith-based organizations, parents, teachers and students at the Iroquois Elementary School’s LGI Room.
The goal of the #PYDONEFAMILY (Positive Youth Development One Family) coalition is to involve and engage the communities of Lawrence Park and Wesleyville to prevent substance use among youth.
The coalition formed in 2014 and it meets monthly. #PYDONEFAMILY has 28 active members and 16 youth council members (students in grades 7 through 12) who volunteer their time to address substance use issues among students and through conversation, education, community partnerships, town hall meetings and an overall dialogue of how to facilitate change at a community-level in regard to youth substance use.
As the opioid epidemic ravages communities throughout the nation, the Iroquois School District coalition brings together citizens, stakeholders and community leaders to confront youth substance use head-on in an effort to reverse trends locally. Quantitative data confirmed the community’s concerns: The 2015 Pennsylvania Youth Survey (PAYS) data showed Iroquois School District students reported a higher 30-day-use for tobacco, marijuana and prescription drugs compared to Pennsylvania statewide data.
Rep. Thompson said, “No one can tackle substance abuse problems alone, and it takes a community to work together through a broad-based coalition like #PYDONEFAMILY to combat this crisis. It is encouraging to see the coalition bring people together in a unified front against substance abuse. I am incredibly proud of the Iroquois School District for facilitating this coalition and Superintendent Murray and those involved in this effort to ensure our most precious resource, young people, continue to have bright futures ahead.”
Superintendent Murray said, “The communities of Wesleyville and Lawrence Park have faced many economic challenges over the last few years as GE has continued to downsize it’s local foot print. Our families have been hit hard. Alcohol and Drug use issues have crept into the lives of our School District’s children. This grant will allow us to strengthen our #PYDONEFAMILY coalition efforts and help build the protective factors in our community needed to raise well educated, healthy, and productive young men and women.”
Grant Director and school Psychologist Modzelewski said, “Iroquois School District, in partnership with key community leaders, is committed to strengthening their community and promoting environmental change to reduce youth substance abuse. Too many lives are impacted by drug abuse: children are displaced, homes are broken, lives are lost. The Drug Free Communities Grant will provide great opportunity for a small community to make a big difference."
ABOUT THE GRANT
This year, 719 Drug-Free Communities (DFC) Support Program grants were awarded totaling $89 million. This represents the largest-ever number of DFC grantees in a single year since the program’s founding.
The DFC Program was created by the Drug-Free Communities Act of 1997, is the nation’s leading effort to mobilize communities to prevent youth substance use. Directed by the White House Office of National Drug Control Policy (ONDCP), in partnership with the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), the DFC Program provides grants to community coalitions to strengthen the infrastructure among local partners to create and sustain a reduction in local youth substance use.
Prescription drug abuse prevention is one of the core measures of effectiveness for local DFC coalitions, and coalitions nationwide have led innovative opioid prevention initiatives. DFC’s 2016 National Evaluation End-of-Year Report found that at least 97% of middle school and 93% of high school youth report that they have not illicitly used prescription drugs in the past 30-days in DFC communities.