$150K VFHY grant supports
"Too Good for Drugs" in Lexington and Buena Vista Schools.
Thanks to a $150,000 three-year grant from the Virginia Foundation for Healthy Youth (VFHY), Rockbridge Area Community Services (RACS) will continue providing tobacco and other drug-use prevention programming to second through sixth graders in Lexington and Buena Vista City schools. The 2018-19 school year will mark the 17th consecutive year of VFHY funding for RACS prevention efforts with area children.
To date, RACS has served over 12,000 students through VFHY-funded programming, most recently using the evidence-based Too Good for Drugs program.
Katie Kirby's second grade class at Kling Elementary in Buena Vista with RACS prevention educator Donna Pagnam (left), who dressed to match Carmen the Cool Cat, one of the puppets used with the Too Good for Drugs program.
The grant will support the continued work of two RACS prevention educators who work directly with children and teachers in the schools, Donna Pagnam and Kathy Coale.
“We are excited that we were awarded the funding to continue Too Good for Drugs,” says Coale, who is also the grant coordinator. “Our outcomes consistently indicate this program is successful in reducing tobacco use by children in our community.”
Locally, fully 83 percent of Too Good for Drugs participants demonstrate increased knowledge of the harmful effects of tobacco, as measured by scores on tests given before and after participation in the program.
The RACS programming is part of a statewide VFHY effort that has helped to bring youth smoking rates to a record low. Over the last decade, smoking among Virginia middle school students has decreased by approximately 85 percent, and among high school students smoking has been cut more than 70 percent.
VFHY Executive Director Marty Kilgore states, “we are thrilled that tobacco use among Virginia’s youth continues to be on the decline. Our latest Virginia Youth Survey results demonstrate that tobacco prevention works and that Virginia’s kids are choosing healthy lifestyles.”
Prevention efforts remain crucial, however, not only to sustain the trend of decreasing tobacco use but also to combat new nicotine- and drug-related health dangers. As Kilgore notes, "because new electronic nicotine delivery systems such as e-cigarettes with flavored liquids are gaining popularity among high school students, we must be constantly vigilant and continue to adjust to future trends in youth nicotine and tobacco use."