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Grant to pay for support programs

June 19, 2002|by RICHARD BELISLE

waynesboro@herald-mail.com

Members of the Waynesboro chapter of Communities That Care, an organization dedicated to keeping kids out of trouble, is about to put its plans into action.

On Tuesday, Pennsylvania Gov. Mark Schweiker announced that Waynesboro is among 20 communities statewide that will share in more than $3 million to continue their efforts to fight youth violence.

Waynesboro's share comes to $150,000, according to a press release from Schweiker's office.

It's the second year the Waynesboro chapter has received that kind of money. Last year it received a $150,000 planning grant to be spent over the three years.

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The latest grant will enable the chapter to implement some of those plans, said member K. Marilyn Smith, who is a member of the Waynesboro Area School Board.

"We got it?" said Smith when told the money was coming.

The local group was organized in July. The members began their work with a professionally conducted survey that looked for children in at-risk situations.

The survey also checked on the number of youngsters in grades six, eight, 10 and 12 in the school district who have used tobacco, alcohol and drugs.

According to the survey, 12.5 percent of sixth-graders said they smoked compared to 54.8 percent statewide.

The survey showed 72 percent of the 10th-graders said they drank and 45 percent of Waynesboro's 12th graders admitted to using marijuana.

Armed with such statistics, the members decided on a plan of action.

First, an elementary school program dubbed "Stepping Stones" will allow low-achieving students to stay in school four afternoons a week, have a snack and catch up on their studies. A teacher and an aide will be hired to run the program.

It will begin this year in Mowrey and Fairview Avenue elementary schools, Smith said.

A bigger program, "Preparing for Drug Free Years," involves teaching parents how to help their children stay off drugs.

Since it's often difficult to get parents involved, there are incentives to get them to participate, Smith said.

Every parent who attends the training classes, which run once a week for five weeks, will be given $5 plus a snack. Those who attend all five weeks will get a $50 bonus.

"Parents will learn to prepare themselves and their children in grades three to seven for drug-free years," she said.

This year will be taken up with training the people who will teach the classes, Smith said. The classes will start next year.

Waynesboro is the only Franklin County community to receive a grant.

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