The BAY Team has received another $125,000 grant to help prevent substance abuse among Barrington kids.
The grant from the Office of National Drug Control Policy “is our primary source of funding,” said Kathy Sullivan, program manager for the BAY (Barrington Adult Youth) Team.
“It’s the final year of a five-year grant cycle," she said. "Next year we’ll start over again in a much more competitive environment with federal funds decreasing."
The BAY Team is a coalition of local organizations and officials that work together to make teens more aware of the consequences of alcohol and drug abuse. It also offers programs on the safe use of social media and the Internet, and it helps parents to cope with teen issues.
Sullivan is one of three staff members. Kristin Westmoreland and Debbie Perugini work closely with her from an office in Town Hall.
“It’s a strong coalition who give us a lot of support,” said Sullivan.
She gives a lot of credit to the “great people who work with and support us,” including Barrington Police Chief John LaCross and Barrington High School Principal Joseph Hurley.
Among the highlights for the BAY Team over the past year were adding Perugini as “marijuana project coordinator” with a state block grant.
“I sense a lot more awareness in the dangers of marijuana use,” she said. “But there is still more work to be done.”
There is a trend nationally of more teens using marijuana even as its legalization is being pushed. And we’re not talking about your grandfather’s marijuana, she said.
“The marijuana out there now is much more potent,” Sullivan said. “It’s easier to get high and the highs are higher.”
Among the BAY Team marijuana initiatives launched so far are a newspaper insert with coalitions in Bristol, Warren, and East Providence that was distributed to 18,000 people; teaming up with other RI groups in an alliance to deal with the issue of the rising use and impending decriminalization of marijuana; conducting focus groups and stakeholder interviews on marijuana issues; and completing a new marijuana curriculum to be implemented at the high school and middle school this year.
Another highlight in the past year was a program led by noted psychologist and author Stephen Wallace, who talked to parents about communicating with their teenage children.
The BAY Team also hosted a panel of local experts on technology and its impact on teens’ lives.
The BAY Team also got involved in the drafting of a letter to parents about issues related to “house parties.” It was supported by state groups who are in the process of having letter sent to all parents in RI, she said.
The BAY Team also conducted the first program on training local liquor servers and sellers. And it worked with the Barrington police to conduct compliance checks on places that serve alcohol.
The DFC program provides grants of up to $625,000 over five years to community coalitions that facilitate citizen participation in local drug prevention efforts, according to a press release.
“America’s success in the 21st century depends in part on our ability to help young people make decisions that will keep them healthy and safe,” said Gil Kerlikowske, Director of National Drug Control Policy. “We congratulate this coalition on its work to raise a generation of young people equipped to remain drug free and ready to prosper in school, in their communities, and in the workplace. While law enforcement efforts will always serve a vital role in keeping our communities safe, we know that stopping drug use before it ever begins is always the smartest and most cost-effective way to reduce drug use and its consequences.”
Efforts to keep youth drug-free are critical to their health and safety, said Sullivan.
“The Drug-Free Communities Support Program recognizes the great potential of the BAY Team to help save young people’s lives," she said. "This new funding will allow the BAY Team to continue to mobilize and organize the community to prevent youth substance use.”