Community cares group aims to help local kids

April 19, 2002|BY RICHARD F. BELISLE

WAYNESBORO, Pa. - The Waynesboro chapter of Communities That Care, an organization dedicated to keeping kids out of trouble, is getting serious about its mission.

The group, organized in July when about 30 people turned out, nearly doubled that number at the group's followup meeting Thursday night in the South Potomac Street firehall.

K. Marilyn Smith, a member of the Waynesboro Area School Board and coordinator of the group, said it got started last year with a $150,000 planning grant spendable over the first three years. The group is also applying for a second grant, also for $150,000, to pay for implementing programs.


The members took stock of their progress since July and heard a report on a professionally conducted youth survey that checked on, among other things, how many kids in grades six, eight, 10 and 12 in the Waynesboro Area School District were using tobacco, alcohol and drugs. The survey also gave the statewide numbers.

In Waynesboro, 12.5 percent of the sixth-graders said they had smoked. Statewide, the percentage was 54.8 percent, Smith said.

Among 12th-graders, the local numbers showed 55 percent smoked compared to 57 percent statewide. The survey showed that 77 percent of the local district's 12th-graders had consumed alcohol compared with 83 percent statewide, she said.

The survey showed that nearly 72 percent of 10th-graders drank in Waynesboro while the number is nearly 76 percent statewide.

When it came to marijuana 45 percent of Waynesboro's 12th-graders admitted to using it. Statewide the figure is 47 percent.

Heroin use was much lower, at 3 percent locally among 12th-graders and 1.7 percent statewide.

"Stimulants are getting to be a big problem here," Smith said.

The survey showed that 29 percent of the area's 12th-graders used them. The numbers for the state came in at 22 percent, she said.

"We're going through all the data to list the risk factors in the district," Smith said.

One Community That Cares program that holds great hope is aimed at getting parents to attend a five-session seminar on how to keep their kids off drugs and alcohol.

Parents will be paid $5 for each session they attend and a $50 bonus for making all five, Smith said.

Franklin County Judge Carol Van Horn, speaker for the meeting, said organizations like Communities That Care work to keep children active in the right kind of activities. "The needs of children haven't changed, but unfortunately society has," she said. "Many children don't get the kind of support at home that they need so society needs to step in."

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