The Kentucky Agency for Substance Abuse Policy/Drug Free Communities Coalition for Barren, Hart and Metcalfe counties is celebrating its 10th anniversary this month.
KY-ASAP was formed by community members and funded by grant money through the national tobacco settlement program established in the late 1990s. The group is a network of concerned citizens, law enforcement officers, educators, health professionals and non-profit workers who are working to decrease the prevalence of drug, tobacco and alcohol abuse in the region.
One of the primary goals of KY-ASAP is the education and empowerment of youths to make healthy decisions to stay away from substance abuse, said Marilyn Sink, project director for KY-ASAP. The coalition provides a variety of educational programs in schools, churches and clubs. Through KY-ASAP, law enforcement officers and health professionals, as well as coalition leaders, are able to go into schools and youth organizations and discuss the dangers of tobacco, drugs and alcohol. Interaction between presenters and the youths is key, Sink said.
“It’s usually a conversation,” Sink said. “It’s not just us talking.”
Getting into the schools is one of the most significant ways KY-ASAP impacts the community, according to Susie Bishop, R.N. and educator with the T.J. Samson Community Hospital Educational Resource Center. Bishop helped write the original grant application to start KY-ASAP and has remained involved in the organization throughout the last 10 years.
It’s especially important to reach the younger students, Bishop said.
“That’s where you really make an impact, I think,” Bishop said. “Once they get older, they’re kind of a little bit harder to reach.”
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