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by Marya Tyler


July 12, 2004

The City Council will determine this Thursday evening, June 15th at 7:00 p.m., whether Alaskans for Drug-Free Youth (ADFY) closes our doors, or whether we continue providing drug prevention education to the community.

This year ADFY presented drug prevention classes to 1,100 students in public school classrooms throughout the Borough, as well as in two private schools. The classes are based on best-proven practices -- teachers and students alike rave about them. ADFY has not yet been granted access to present in the high school, but we provided hard-hitting drug prevention videos for the high school health classes, and also a lab illustrating the effects of drug abuse for the chemistry class. Throughout the school year, a committed group of ADFY middle and high students met weekly after school to create displays, produce radio and TV commercials, perform community service, and put on a powerful anti-drug rave, all the while developing their own leadership potential.

You no doubt have seen our "Drug Question of the Week" in the Ketchikan Daily News, SitNews, and our classified ads in the Local Paper. Thousands of posters and helpful informational brochures are distributed throughout town by our office. You'll find us at nearly every event-- First City Expo, Halloween at the Mall, Health Fair, Blueberry Festival, Fourth of July--doing what we can to educate about the hazards of drugs.

This year our staff presented to the Ketchikan Ministerial Association so pastors might better understand drugs in our community. We presented to the Ketchikan Bar Association, the District Attorneys and Public Defenders about the known hazards of marijuana. We are dedicated to get to the bottom of the explosion in prescription drug abuse in the community. That is, if we are allowed to continue.

The suggestion has been made that ADFY seek funding from local businesses, rather than from the City Council. The idea is not tenable. Every hour of energy ADFY spends in fund raising is diverted from our mission of drug prevention education. Furthermore, why should a few small businesses shoulder the burden of drug abuse for the entire community? The Borough, with 174 employees, has already shown their unwillingness and/or inability to fund ADFY. The City is the largest employer in the area with 350 employees, but according to the business-foot-the-bill plan they would be exempt from paying anything. Ketchikan General Hospital is already footing the bill for equipment, space, maintenance, utilities, financial oversight and management, and can not be expected to provide more. That would leave the burden for funding ADFY to the small business owners who can least afford it.

Everyone in Ketchikan is affected by drug use in the community. Our prevention efforts in the community reach everyone. ADFY needs a sustainable, reliable, fair source of funds, and we can not spend our weeks and hours fund raising while the vital needs of drug-prevention in the community are ignored. What organization will take our place if the doors close? Who will provide your children and your grandchildren with the information they need to avoid drugs?

This is not a high-paying job, and our staff have other opportunities. It is not our jobs we are trying to protect, but the tender minds and hearts of the youth of the community who hear pro-drug messages flowing from music, TV, movies, and Internet. Someone needs to stand in the gap for them. ADFY is willing.

Marya Tyler
Ketchikan, AK - USA



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