Feds give to youth center

Published 12:00 am Sunday, July 25, 2004

The Selma Substance Abuse Coalition, a partnership between the Selma Youth Development and various county agencies, was recently awarded a $72, 897 grant from the U.S. Department of Justice to provide drug prevention and education services to young teens and adults.

Frank Hardy, executive director of the Selma Youth Development Center, said this grant is a renewal of a previous grant the center received in 1999 for a more substantial amount of money.

“The grant we received five years ago was for around $97,000. We are taking a cut this year, but I believe the fact they refunded us is a testimony to the impact we’ve had on the community,” Hardy said.

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Along with the Youth Development Center, other coalition members include the Cahaba Center’s Alcoholism and Drug Abuse Treatment program and the Juvenile Court System.

These agencies work together to encourage academic achievement and community involvement for Selma’s youth.

The Cahaba Center’s role is to treat the alcohol and drug abuse, while the Juvenile Court System can mandate that kids

get involved in the Youth Development Center’s programs.

“The grant put an emphasis on collaborating with other agencies in the community and coalition building,” Hardy said. “The programs we have at the Selma Youth Development Center are a side affect of this grant, and the Department of Justice’s requirements fit into what we were already doing.”

Hardy said the Youth Development Center focuses on drug prevention by providing children and teens with other outlets instead of getting into trouble.

Hardy said he has discovered that while anti-drug information is important, most teens are already aware of the dangers of drug abuse.

“Giving these children alternatives is what really makes the difference,” Hardy said. “We create programs that provide them with more options, like taking up sports, dance, art, and drama.”

Instead of focusing on the negative, Hardy said, the Youth Development Center spotlights positive images and creates a network of support for children.

“In the areas where I can’t be of use, my coalition can,” Hardy said.

The Youth Development Center, located on Plant Street, recently completed it’s five-week summer program, and will soon begin it’s after school program next month.