ATOD Coalition in Lawrence County presses on

WALNUT RIDGE, AR (KAIT) - Despite the expiration of a major grant, the Lawrence County ATOD (Alcohol, Tobacco and Other Drugs) coalition is still moving on with their education program.

Lawrence County Sheriff Jody Dotson, who works closely with ATOD gave a me a little background on the program.

Dotson, "The coalition has been around since 99. We've had grant money since 2007 to actually get out into the schools and implement some programs."

But now that major grant has run out. Emily Hathcock who writes grants for Lawrence county and also works with ATOD says they have been looking ahead.

Hathcock, "Not a surprise. We were expecting it to run out. In fact the year prior to the grant running out, we actually began researching other grants to find continued funding. "

You have probably seen the billboard and posters for ATOD, keeping kids off drugs, alcohol and smoking. The youth task force is the "in house" peer teaching group.

And does this program work? Well Sheriff Jody Dotson says he can definitely see the results.[TAKE SOT

"Anytime we can reach a child and prevent them from using drugs and alcohol. It's a good thing. It will pay off in the long run." Hathcock agrees. "I fully believe they are successful. After looking over the data over the course of multiple years I can show you the decrease in drug and alcohol use in teens is there based upon the programs we have conducted."

However, now the coalition must now rely on short term grants and volunteers. The organization used to have and office and paid employees, it now resides in a cardboard box in Sheriff Dotson's office. Money is coming in though, they recreantly received a 20 Thousand dollar Lead and Seed grant that will be used in the first part of 2012.

Hathcock, "This grant in particular is for a youth coalition. It will be used for youth to plan and conduct prevention activities based on the needs that they perceive, with little adult guidance."

Hathcock says that the organization was set up in 1999 based on local research. The programs focus on 3 major issues.

Hatchcock, "In Lawrence county we've found it's been alcohol primarily but we also have an issue with tobacco and some cases of marijuana."

ATOD has not been able to secure one grant to fund everything they do. "Therefore", Hathcock says, "We have had to make some changes in programming and funding."

Hathcock, "We've divided all the activities into smaller chunks and tried to find grants that cover just that one area."

With a solid volunteer and youth based mentor program and overwhelming support of the local communities ATOD is pressing ahead strongly.

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