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Drug free program begins

Posted: August 5, 2012 2:00 a.m.
Updated: August 5, 2012 2:00 a.m.
 

The new Santa Clarita Valley-wide drug-prevention partnership between the city, Sheriff’s Department and schools kicks off this week.

The Drug Free Youth in Town partnership, dubbed DFYiT, is designed to address the failings of the STAR program, which was shown to be inefficient, city officials said.

“Drug use is here in Santa Clarita, as it is in most communities, and it was clear we needed to go in a different direction,” said Evan Thomason, city communications specialist.

“We’ve had a rise in drug use and a rise in heroin, and the different organizations came together and asked what’s working in other communities. And DFYiT was something that jumped out.”

“The DFYiT program is a club program for the campuses,” said Janine Prado, a city human services specialist who will oversee the city-county-schools partnership.

It will be offered to every public junior high and high school in the area.

“Young people are trained to participate, and we want kids to be with like-minded kids,” she said. The program had a 99.7 percent success rate in Miami, where program officials observed the results among 3,600 students who took part in DFYiT, according to city officials.

“It’s basically an educational program and a diversion program,” Thomason said. “It’s a peer-based program. It’s run in schools by the teens themselves.”

The program will be funded by $186,000 in city general funds, along with a two-year, $60,000 commitment from Los Angeles County.

The most important aspect of the program was the student empowerment, Prado said.

“Students have the chance to create something on their campus that works for their culture,” she explained.

The schools will be given an outline, information and occasional tests of the information so that program results can be tracked, she said. How this information is used is up to the students, who will make decisions on how to make the program campus-appropriate for each site.

A kickoff for the program will be held Friday in the Hart High School quad beginning at 10 a.m.

psmith@the-signal.com

661-287-5526

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