The GRAAB Coalition of Bradley County received $125,000 as a fourth-year grant recipient of the Drug-Free Communities Support Program.
The grant will allow GRAAB (Going Respectfully Against Addictive Behaviors) to continue implementing preventative measures in the community. This includes the organization’s main focus of addressing prescription drug, over the counter and inhalant abuse among area youth.
“We are not powerless against the challenge of drug use among young people here in Cleveland and Bradley County,” said Tanya Southerland, GRAAB executive director. “Res-earch shows that prevention is the most effective tool we have to reduce the terrible consequences associated with drug use among young people.”
Continued Southerland, “This new funding will allow the GRAAB Coalition to help place more young people on the path toward success and enable them to live healthier and safer lives.”
Partnerships between the organization requesting funding and the community are crucial to the grant’s renewal. Collaboration with the Cleveland Family YMCA and Boys & Girls Clubs of Cleveland stood out in this year’s renewal application. Southerland said community partnerships help the coalition reach even more youth in the community.
Additional partners have included, but are not limited to, 100 Black Men of Bradley County, the Bradley County Sheriff’s Office, Court Appointed Special Advocates, Cleveland State Community College and Hiwassee Mental Health.
“Our grant really loves collaboration in the community,” Southerland said. “If they have not been able to be with us in the past, organizations can always contact us and see how they can get involved. It is never too late.”
The goals of GRAAB are twofold. First, the organization strives for high visibility, high impact collaboration with partner organizations in the community. Second, there is a drive to reduce substance abuse, especially the abuse of inhalants, over-the-counter and prescription drugs of youth.
Transitional classes for youth are offered through the antidrug coalition. These are, “highly interactive, skills-based curriculum designed to promote positive health and personal development.” Students equipped with necessary tools are believed to navigate the workplace and higher education realms more effectively. Objectives of the program include personal self-management skills, general social skills and drug resistance skills.
Southerland emphasized the program also offers important information for adults. The coalition focuses on healthy lifestyle choices as part of its antidrug stance.
One avenue adults in the community can learn more through is GRAAB’s parenting classes. These are, “designed to help parents strengthen communication with their children and prevent them from using drugs.” The program’s learning objectives are separated into four sections. Participants study a comprehensive guide and DVD.
More information on GRAAB can be found by calling 423-472-5800 or visiting www.graabcoalition.com.
The goal is to become a self-sustaining coalition with an expanded staff for increased services in the community.
“We want to offer more youth activities that are safe, healthy and during the hours of 3 p.m. to 7 p.m., [when] they are most at risk,” Southerland said.