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The Children's Coalition is fighting youth substance abuse with a $625,000 grant

Credit: Mary Barrios
Credit: Mary Barrios(KNOE)
Published: Sep. 6, 2018 at 12:07 PM CDT
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The Children's Coalition of Northeast Louisiana is fighting to get kids in Union Parish drug and alcohol free. They’re getting some help with a $625,000 grant.

The Drug Free Communities Grant is going to a program called the Union Parish Alliance for Community Transformation (U-ACT). The program focuses on keeping kids active, involved, and away from drugs and alcohol.

Mary Barrios from The Children’s Coalition says the focus isn't on what not to do, it's about finding other things, like sports, clubs, or activities. She says U-ACT also uses student mentors to guide children down the right path.

"We just kind of empower them to say 'You know what, I’m going to choose myself,” she says. In fact, #ChooseYourself is one of their hashtags. “Also #ThinkBeforeYouAct is our other hashtag that our kids came up with. That means before you do it, think about it."

The Children’s Coalition is the only organization in Louisiana to win the grant for this round of funding.

Barrios says it’s also only one of two total grantees in north Louisiana. She says most of the money goes to the southern part of the state. Barrios believes kids in rural areas deserve the same opportunities.

The grant is funding for the next five years, but The Children's Coalition will have a chance to apply for a five-year extension, giving them money for up to ten years.