Local coalition receives grant for after school programs

The Carter County Drug Prevention was one of few programs in the country to receive a grant from Youth Service America.

Director Jilian Reece said the grant serves to promote and create new after school programs for the students in Carter County.

“One of [CCDP]’s goals is to promote safe environments,” Reece said.

Parts of this goal are present in recent programs they have sponsored such as the Halloween dodgeball tournament or their upcoming Nerf Gun War next week.

Though the grant may seem small at $500, Reece said financial support such as this allows them to better pursue what their youth board finds the best way forward.

“We can have great ideas, but we have to have the funding to make things work,” she said.

This focus on the youth extends to the coalition’s structure as a whole. The coalition is led by the students whenever possible.

“We are very connected with teenagers in the community,” Reece said. “That’s where the skateboarding program came from.”

For this grant especially, CCDP is continuing to look at more innovative ways to reach out to their community, especially fellow classmates.

This focus, she said, is in part due to the need to create positive experiences for children in the community. By giving students a positive environment outside of adverse home relationships they may have, it can lessen the impact those environments have on their lives in the future.

Reece said Kelly Kitchens from Elizabethton Parks and Recreation suggested using eSports, or video game tournaments, as a form of outreach.

“We cannot stand up here and say whatever,” she said. “We do not reach people that way. We want everything to be youth-led.”

In a similar vein, the grant allows CCDP to continue its partnerships with other organizations, including Parks and Rec, Elizabethton/Carter County Library and others in the future.

“We want to continue monthly programs at Parks and Rec,” Reece said.

As for specifics on plans to use the grant money, they are still working on some of the details, though those willing to volunteer or otherwise get more information about CCDP can contact Reece by visiting their office at 546 East Elk Ave.

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