The Young Marines unveil a new and expanded Drug Demand Reduction Program: ‘Closing the Gate on Drugs’
The Young Marines youth organization took its drug demand reduction efforts to the next level by launching a new program titled, “Closing the Gate on Drugs.” The unveiling of the program took place at the annual Adult Leader’s Conference held June 4-7 in Washington D.C.
The American Legion Child Welfare Foundation provided $90,000 in grant monies for the purpose of creating printed materials to use in producing and promoting an even more robust Young Marines Drug Demand Reduction effort. This resulted in the new slogan: “Closing the Gate on Drugs.” The word “Gate” links to what’s called “gateway drugs” which are tobacco, marijuana, prescription medication, inhalants and alcohol.
“The grant is the largest ever given by the Child Welfare Foundation,” said Mike Kessler, national executive director and CEO of the Young Marines. “Needless to say, we’re humbled by the foundation’s trust and confidence in us to be effective in our drug demand reduction efforts.”
Each unit is receiving the newly branded kit that includes stickers, tri-fold flyers, pledge forms, slap bracelets, activity books, key chains with a USB drive of the program and feedback forms. These printed materials are being distributed not only to the 300 Young Marines units but to schools and youth organizations in the communities as a part of the outreach program.
“It is essential the drug demand reduction message reach as many young people as possible, and 11,000 Young Marines are working tirelessly to that end,” Kessler said.
The curriculum used is Project ALERT, a school-based, substance abuse prevention program for grades seven and eight.
“Instead of reinventing the wheel with a new education program, we use Project ALERT, an evidenced-based program which has been developed by RAND, the nation’s leading think tank on drug policy,” said Joe Lusignan, deputy director, West Coast Operations and drug demand reduction resource officer with the Young Marines. “When we presented our initiative to the Drug Enforcement Administration, who was already supportive of what we had been doing, they were really excited by the direction we are headed with ‘Closing the Gate on Drugs.’ ”
According to Lusignan, the program is important because it provides standardization throughout the Young Marines program.
“We are reaching all of our Young Marines with the same education, with the same teaching formats, and the same leadership opportunities,” he said. “In addition, the program focuses on the drugs that our youth are exposed to early and most often.”
A 22-year career in law enforcement taught Lusignan that abusers don't leap into the harder drugs that everyone is so concerned about. The insidious infection of drug abuse starts with the gateway drugs. If youth can be stopped from experimenting with the gateway drugs, it stands to reason they won’t progress to the drugs that garner all the concern.
“I'm inspired by the enthusiasm of the Young Marines who have picked up the gauntlet,” Lusignan said. “They’ve become certified instructors and are now leading the charge against the onslaught of drug abuse by educating others, not only in their units, but also within their communities. Our Young Marines are not only picking up the ball but are carrying it forward and bringing their peers with them.
The program consists of lessons that help kids learn and practice new skills and strategies for resisting drugs. In addition, the lessons build positive expectations about life without drugs.
“This program removes the old visual of the adult standing in front of the class lecturing the audience that ‘drugs are bad,’” Lusignan said. “This program puts the power into the hands of our youth, and it gives them not only the education about the drugs themselves but also the tools to resist the temptations they evoke.”
“With our new ‘Closing the Gate on Drugs’ program, we consider ourselves the premier drug demand reduction youth organization with national scope and impact,” Kessler said.
The Young Marines is a national non-profit 501c(3) youth education and service program for boys and girls, age eight through the completion of high school. The Young Marines promotes the mental, moral and physical development of its members. The program focuses on teaching the values of leadership, teamwork and self-discipline so its members can live and promote a healthy, drug-free lifestyle.\
Since the Young Marines' humble beginnings in 1959 with one unit and a handful of boys, the organization has grown to over 300 units with 11,000 youth and 3,000 adult volunteers in 46 states, the District of Columbia, Japan and with affiliates in a host of other countries to include Germany, Thailand and Hungary.
For more information, visit the official website at http://www.youngmarines.com.
Media Contact: Andy Richardson
Ginny Richardson Public Relations
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