As part of a multi-million dollar federal grant to help keep drugs away from Kentucky children, the Madison County Health Department’s Youth Impact Team received $124,270 for efforts to combat the epidemic in the area.

According to David Eastham, the team’s director, the Youth Impact Team is a community coalition open to anyone in the county interested in youth substance use prevention.

The group is funded by the Drug Free Communities Grant and includes at least one representatives from 12 sectors of the community, including local government, the faith community, local business, media, education, civic organizations, health care, law enforcement, parents, youth substance abuse organization and youth serving organizations.

Eastham said the grant money provides funding for a project director and project coordinator position to assist the team in meeting the Drug Free Community grant requirements. It also provides funding for evidence-based, environmental youth substance use prevention strategies for our community, he added.

“The Youth Impact Team is trained and certified by Community Anti-Drug Coalitions of America in the use of evidence-based prevention and assessment strategies for substance use prevention,” Eastham told The Register. “What makes the Youth Impact Team unique is the goal of the coalition becoming a youth-led team focused on issues of substance use in our community by incorporating youth-led prevention strategies.”

This is the team’s second year receiving the grant and for operations. He said the main change for the coalition continues to build capacity with membership doubling in the first year.

“The team has worked with other organizations such as Children’s Champions on vape education and prevention and with all three local governments and all the school boards on a Vape Education Proclamation,” Eastham said. “The team also has been active in supporting the other organizations and agencies involved with the Too Good for Drugs prevention education program in our schools.”

He said the Youth Impact Team hopes to continue to build its membership and focus not only on nicotine use prevention, but also underage alcohol and marijuana use in the community.

The money allocated to the group was only a small portion of a $2.6 million investment across the state to keep drugs away from children, largely supported by Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell.

“The Drug Free Communities program is a critical feature of our comprehensive response to the substance abuse epidemic, and I applaud this over $2.6 million investment into educating Kentucky’s youth about the heartbreaking dangers of drugs,” Senator McConnell said in a release. “Kentucky remains at the center of the substance abuse crisis, but it’s also home to innovative treatment professionals who are driving real results and leading the national response. When Drug Czar Jim Carroll accepted my invitation to visit Kentucky earlier this year, he saw the success of our prevention and treatment efforts up close. As Senate Majority Leader, I’ll continue to work with the Trump administration and our Kentucky partners to make this response a national priority and to help save lives from addiction.”

“The Youth Impact Team truly appreciates all the work and support of our community partners and we are always looking for new members, community partners, youth friendly places to meet, and donations of snacks and food for our youth meetings,” Eastham said.

The Youth Impact Team is open to anyone in the community, especially to youth 12 years old or older. To get involved or get more information, contact David Eastham with the Madison County Health Department at (859) 626-4228 or email at davidl.eastham@ky.gov.

Follow Taylor Six on Twitter at @TaylorSixRR.

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