Funding to help start a Drug Abuse Resistance Education (DARE) program for the Whitley County Sheriff’s Department, and a new local clinic to treat people diagnosed with Hepatitis C were two of the topics discussed during the Whitley County UNITE Coalition’s quarterly meeting Monday afternoon.
During the meeting Monday, the coalition approved action plans to provide funding for three new organizations.
The Whitley County Sheriff’s Department will receive $1,000 to help fund the DARE program that will be implemented in August 2019 to educate fifth grade students in the Whitley County School District about drugs, peer pressure and bullying.
“This is to get the program started,” noted Whitley County UNITE Coalition Chairwoman Amber Owens.
Bethany’s Hope will receive $1,000 to take 33 children to Laurel Lake Baptist Camp.
Bethany’s Hope is a suicide awareness and prevention program that is targeting children ages 12 – 19 years old with the message that suicide is not the answer.
The program is named in honor of Bethany Lawson, a 16-year-old Whitley County High School student and model, who killed herself last year.
The program is being done in conjunction with Grace Christian Fellowship Church.
The program is receiving funding from UNITE in part because teens often turn to drugs when they are depressed.
The Hope House is a transitional living program for females in Whitley County, which will receive $254.27 to purchase Celebrate Recovery addiction treatment materials.
The facility provides housing and classes for females, who have been incarcerated with substance abuse issues and are recently released from jail.
The program offers classes, such as anger management, budgeting, healthy relationships, parenting, and requires counseling so participants can gain stability and sobriety.
Owens noted that the program partners with several local agencies.
Additional funds will help purchase materials for the Whitley County Detention Center’s Re-entry Program, and the archery program at Williamsburg Independent School.
Also during Monday’s meeting, Jill Bryant with Bryant Family Medicine noted that the office is conducting a new Hepatitis C clinic in partnership with a hepatologist at the University of Louisville.
“We were one of 30 primary care providers that was approved to treat Hepatitis C. Whitley County is the third leading county in Kentucky for Hepatitis C cases. There is a big push for us to be able to get rid of it in our area,” Bryant said.
“As everyone knows, drug addiction is a big problem in Whitley County. 70 percent of people with Hepatitis C have substance abuse issues.”
Bryant Family Medicine is located off US25W across the street from the Whitley County school system’s soccer complex.
In other business, the coalition:
- Discussed the upcoming 2019 Shoot Hoops Not Drugs basketball camps being held this summer across the region, including camps in Clay County, Rowan County, Perry County, Rockcastle County and one at Whitley County High School, which is scheduled for Thursday, June 20 from 4 – 7 p.m.
“We would like to be the biggest camp out of all five of them,” noted Dawn Lang, a treatment/education program coordinator with Operation UNIITE.
Former University of Kentucky basketball player Jarrod Polson will conduct the camp, which is for school age youth, who will all receive a free T-shirt and basketball for participating. A water and food break will be provided.
During the camp, parents and guardians will be shown a short presentation on vaping, and then will be allowed to watch the rest of the camp.
- Discussed the Aug. 3 Third-Annual Kayaking for Kids kayak and Jon Boat race.
Owens noted that event organizers have already raised more money in sponsorships than they did last year.
Upward Basketball programs in Corbin and Williamsburg will each receive $1,200 from proceeds generated by the race. Family resource centers at eight local elementary schools will split the remainder of the funds raised by the race.
Last year each school received $550, and Whitley County Judge-Executive Pat White Jr. said the goal is to donate $1,000 to each school this year.
- Discussed Camp UNITE, which will take place at the University of the Cumberlands July 23-27. Camp UNITE is a residential drug awareness leadership/adventure program for young people, who complete sixth, seventh or eighth grades this current school year. The program takes about 250 students each year, and about 150 students have already been signed up.
“I have quite a few registered from Whitley County,” Lang noted.
The camp is no small undertaking with 76 youth volunteers serving as small group team leaders, 95 community volunteers and 20 UNITE staff members and youth summer interns.
Officials noted that volunteers are always needed.
For more information about Camp UNITE or other Operation UNITE initiatives, please visit their website at www.operationunite.org.