Foundation For Youth is using state grant funding to pilot several new drug-abuse prevention programs in local schools, the Boys and Girls Club and after-school programs.

The $500,000 grant, funded through a two-year Communities That Care grant from the Indiana Department of Mental Health and Addiction, was awarded last summer for programs to educate children about substance abuse, said Andrea Vogel, director of the Communities That Care program offered through FFY.

The funding covers administrative and programming costs, in addition to training provided through the program. Vogel supervises an administrative staff of three people, and supervises 10 to 15 facilitators who present the programming in Bartholomew County.

At the end of March, the grant program has served about 1,000 individuals, Vogel said.

Vogel said she is hopeful that the grant, which became available last July, can be renewed in 2018 for another two-year cycle of programming.

Programs are provided from elementary through college levels and are focused on substance-abuse prevention, Vogel said.

An online program, known as e-Checkup to Go, is offered through Ivy Tech Community College. It surveys students with questions about their alcohol consumption and gives them personalized feedback meant to reduce the amount they consume, Vogel said. Information about physical health and the consequences of alcohol use are also provided through the program, she said.

The Communities That Care grant features several other components, including LifeSkills Training that helps students to develop coping, social and anger-management skills, in addition to teaching substance-abuse prevention, Vogel said.

“Youths are kind of bombarded with so many things … and to me, it’s important to provide them with as many skills as we can,” she said.

LifeSkills is being piloted in seventh-grade health classes at Northside Middle School, said Chuck Kime, Foundation For Youth executive director.

FFY is also partnering with the Bartholomew County Youth Services Center to offer the LifeSkills program at the juvenile facility.

A second program, Project Alert, is targeted to eighth-grade students at Northside Middle School. Students are given 10 lesson plans focusing on issues such as alcohol, marijuana and tobacco substance-abuse prevention, Vogel said.

A third component of the grant, Positive Action, focuses on creating positive learning environments. The program has a philosophy centered around positive thoughts leading to positive action and positive action leading to positive feelings, Vogel said. It is being used by eight elementary schools in the Bartholomew Consolidated School Corp. through their i-Care program, a before- and after-school program for students in prekindergarten through grade 6 that provides activities and homework support.

Students at Parkside, Richards, Smith, Southside, CSA Fodrea, CSA Lincoln, Taylorsville and Schmitt elementary schools are taught grade-appropriate lessons about substance-abuse education once a week through the grant, Vogel said. Individuals are also taught how positive choices can have an overall effect on their future, she said.

“You go through the lessons (and learn) that there are positive ways to think and how that can lead to positive action,” she said. “When you make positive decisions, it can literally affect your outlook on life.”

Lessons are also taught to individuals at the Boys & Girls Club and Children Inc., a childcare provider based in Columbus.

Positive Action helps participants learn about self-care and their own self-esteem as well, Vogel said.

“They really can’t care about others until they care about themselves,” she said.

Kime said the overall goal through the Communities That Care grant program is to give young people tools so they can be successful in life and make smart decisions.

One ongoing goal of the grant-funded programs is to look for ways to make them self-sustainable in the future in case the grant money does not materialize in the future, she said.

“We are out there as a resource,” Vogel said. “I hope to see an increase of the community collaboration (about substance-abuse prevention) that’s already started because that’s so important to all of this.”

Where to learn more about Foundation for Youth

Foundation for Youth, 405 Hope Ave., offers youth and community programs, including the Boys & Girls Club, Columbus Youth Camp, Big Brothers Big Sisters and more.

For more information, visit www.foundationforyouth.com or call 812-348-4558.

More about drug abuse prevention programming

Information about programs offered through the Communities That Care grant is available on the Foundation for Youth’s website at www.foundationforyouth.com/programs/CTC or by calling Andrea Vogel, director of Communities That Care at 812-348-4558, Ext. 314.

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Matt Kent is a reporter for The Republic. He can be reached at 812-379-5712 or mkent@therepublic.com