Local group receives county grant with focus on meth
A group of Kings Beach teens will become movie producers, actors and camera operators this January all in an effort to educate the community about the dangers of methamphetamine.In November, Placer County handed out six grants totaling $10,781 for production of a DVD for the countys campaign Its a Fact: Meth is our Problem. Sierra High School in Truckee received one of the grants, while Kings Beach-based Creciendo Unidos, which focuses on providing alcohol- and drug-free activities for Latino youth, received another. It is based on the idea to keep Tahoe drug- and gang-free. Our goal is to make it realistic and straight forward, Diana Cristales-David, a Creciendo Unidos facilitator, said of the video. A lot of kids are struggling. Its gotten to the point where I know so many kids who have used or are using [drugs]. I see it in so many families.
Cristales-David said the teens involved in Creciendo Unidos will work on the video, including those who have had problems with drugs in the past. She said the group will try to show the video in schools, at the Boys & Girls Club, the local television station, or wherever they can show it.If kids feel like they belong to a group like Creciendo Unidos, then they wont feel like they have to join a gang, said Sylvia Doignon, another Creciendo Unidos facilitator.Doignon said the group will begin making the video in January and target it toward teens and families. Its been great to see the kids involved in a different type of prevention, said Placer County Community Services Officer Kristen Mann. They are thinking out of the box.
Placer Countys new meth prevention program aims to bring awareness to increased meth use, according to the grant application.Its the fastest growing drug of abuse in all of our neighborhoods, Placer County Sheriff Ed Bonner said in a news release. Its easy to make, its cheap, its available, its odorless and tasteless. It can be smoked and theres no odor. It can also be snorted, ingested or injected.About 4 percent of teens in Placer County have used methamphetamine, according to Placer County Health Officer Dr. Richard Burton. That is approximately 600 kids, Burton said.Alan Hayashi, Placer Countys prevention supervisor, said the countys goal is to have youth send messages to other youth regarding drugs and alcohol, rather than adults delivering that message. The grant Sierra High School received was also awarded by the county for production of an anti-methamphetamine video, to be produced by teens for teens. Meth is one drug that seems to be cropping up lately, Hayashi said. Its out there.
Placer County joined other jurisdictions nationwide to celebrate National Methamphetamine Awareness Day in November. Schools are also stepping up meth education, starting as early as elementary school. Stephanie Novick, Placer Countys D.A.R.E officer, shows fifth graders before and after photos of meth users, and Placer County Community Services Officer Melinda Maehler will present the issue to sixth, seventh and eighth graders at North Tahoe Middle School during a drug and alcohol class in January. In addition to Placer Countys programs, Creciendo Unidos will ring in the new year with its own Keep Tahoe Drug and Gang Free campaign.Some of the ideas were looking at is the juxtaposition of the beauty of Lake Tahoe and drug use, said Cristales-David.
The California Friday Night Live (FNL) Program, which is funding a portion of Placer Countys anti-meth campaign, was developed in 1984. It began as a pilot program dedicated to reducing the number of deaths and injuries caused by teen motorists driving under the influence of alcohol and other drugs. During the first years of the program, the youth involved were organized into high school-based student action groups. The success rate was so great that in 1988 a statewide office was established. By 1990, the number of counties with the FNL Program had increased 300 percent and the main focus of the program began to shift from one of preventing drinking and driving among teens to promoting healthy lifestyles free of alcohol, tobacco, or other substance abuse among youth. From the Friday Night Live Web site, http://www.fridaynightlive.org
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