Placer coalition to prevent youth substance abuse receives federal grant

By: Joanna Jullien Special to The Press Tribune
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The war against drugs is gaining ground in Placer County. The White House Office of National Drug Control Policy recently awarded a local Placer County coalition $625,000 for a period of five years. The local grassroots group, The Coalition for Placer Youth, was formed in June 2008 to unite parents, educators, law enforcement and elected officials to promote substance abuse awareness and prevention among the youth in Placer County. The Coalition for Placer Youth is one of 161 community organizations selected out of 417 applicants from across the nation. “This coalition will provide excellent information and encouragement to parents, teachers, school administrators, and business owners about supporting our children and promoting their healthy and safe journey into adulthood,” said Wendy Lang, vice resident of the Rocklin School District board of directors, who is a parent and a member of the steering committee. “This coalition is engaging citizens in Lincoln, Roseville, Rocklin, Loomis, Granite Bay and Auburn to realize the shared vision of healthy communities free of substance abuse.” The Coalition for Placer Youth is a community-wide response to the statistics and real-life hometown experiences of youth alcohol and drug abuse.. Placer County Sheriff Ed Bonner said he applauds the formation of the local group and said he welcomes the community support. “An informed, aware and proactive public is essential in abating substance abuse among our youth,” he said. Undersheriff Devon Bell has been working closely with the coalition throughout its formation. “We are here to serve and protect,” Bell said. “We can perform this function best in partnership with proactive efforts like those of the Coalition for Placer Youth.” According to Kathie Sinor, health instructor at Granite Bay High School and chair of the coalition Rx sub-committee, the initial focus was to respond to the top-ranked concerns from teens about parent awareness of alcohol abuse. “For the 2009-10 fiscal year the coalition agreed to expand their focus to bring education and awareness to address the recent escalating trend of prescription and over-the-counter drug abuse by teens,” Sinor said. Gayle Garbolino-Mojica, Placer County superintendent of schools, understands the impact of substance abuse among students. “Our children need the adults in their lives to reinforce the norms for what is legal and safe,” Garbolino-Mojica said. “This coalition has the strategy and enthusiasm essential to realize the vision of substance abuse free communities.” The Coalition for Placer Youth is organized into one steering committee and five subcommittees: Media and Awareness, Social Host, Prescription and Over the Counter (Rx), Latino Leadership Council and Youth Commission. The coalition activities have included a convening of physicians, pharmacists and law enforcement on prescription drug abuse and two community forums on drugs and alcohol abuse in October featured what teens want their parents to know about drugs and alcohol.