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Drug Free Communities continues work

Drug Free Communities of Dallas County was recently honored at the Community Anti-Drug Coalitions of America (CADCA) national leadership forum in Washington, D.C. during a graduation ceremony.

Jerria Martin, executive director of Drug Free Communities, said the coalition is now a graduate of CADCA’s National Coalition Academy, which is a training program to increase the effectiveness of community drug prevention leaders.

“We are so proud of our coalition for investing the time and resources to take advantage of the best community coalition training in the world,” Martin said. “To graduate from this year-long intensive course is no small feat and Drug Free Communities of Dallas County is more prepared today to be an effective, sustainable coalition because of this training.”

Martin said she is looking forward to applying the training to the DFC’s strategies when it comes to encouraging youth to live drug free.

Martin said the academy is a year-long training program that includes three week-long sessions in Birmingham. The leadership forum Martin attended is a four-day event where leaders from across the country that are fighting drug and substance abuse come together.

“We literally learned the ground rules of how to fight substance and drug abuse within our community and all the back work and how to figure out the root cause,” she said. “It’s kind of like strategic planning to see positive results fast.”

Drug Free Communities of Dallas County was founded in 2016, and Martin said she is already seeing a difference in the schools.

Martin said a “Hope Dealers” group has been established at each of the high schools to serve as role models to their peers and educate other students on drugs and substance abuse.

“They’re doing an awesome job. Every other month they’re having a different event in school, where they’re encouraging their student body,” Martin said.

The coalition has taken student leaders to places like the Dallas County Jail and to a session of drug court at the Dallas County Courthouse to see the effects drugs and alcohol can have on people and the consequences that go along with them.

While in Washington, D.C., Martin met with U.S. Rep. Terri Sewell and U.S. Rep. Martha Roby to share the work being done in Selma and Dallas County.

“They were just so excited about the work we’re doing. We’re going to do some stuff to partner with them, and they’re going to do some stuff to partner with us,” Martin said. “It’s an awesome opportunity. To be able to present that to the Congress people … it just really makes me believe we’re going to see some positive changes.”

Martin said a survey will be given at the end of this school year at each of the high schools to find out where students stand when it comes to alcohol, tobacco and drugs.

“We’re expecting to see those numbers drop tremendously with all of the work we’ve been doing in the schools and every school having a Junior Hope Dealers group,” she said.