About 60 children were expected to step through the doors of the new COMBAT Drug Prevention & Resource Center when it opened this morning inside the Clymer Community Center at 1301 Vine Street in Kansas City. The Jackson County COMBAT program and the Housing Authority of Kansas City joined forces to develop this unique program through which information and services about housing as well as drug prevention services are now available all under one roof.
Jackson County Prosecutor Jean Peters Baker, County Legislator Theresa Garza Ruiz (1st District At-Large) County Sheriff Mike Sharp and COMBAT Director Stacey Daniels-Young joined Kansas City, Missouri Mayor Pro Tem Cindy Circo, Kansas City Councilwoman Melba Curls and Housing Authority Executive Director Edwin Lowndes in announcing the Drug Prevention & Resource Center opening during a news conference Saturday, June 18. The news conference was part of a grand opening celebration featuring music, a "moonwalk" for children, gift card giveaways and free food.
Utilizing Existing Programs
The Resource Center has been developed without using any additional funding, by utilizing already existing programs and services -- in addition to the available space inside the Clymer Center. The Clymer Center is a multi-purpose facility on the grounds of the Theron B. Watkins family housing development. The drug prevention program now available there involves mentoring, tutoring, counseling, job readiness training, referral services and recreational activities. Each participant undergoes an assessment before being referred to the appropriate program.
"As with most prevention programs, we'll be looking primarily to get kids involved," said Daniels-Young prior to the news conference. "We want to start them down a positive path -- away from drugs and all the negative, potentially deadly consequences associated with drug use and drug crime."
During the summer, services are being provided at the Clymer Center weekdays 8:00 a.m. to 7:00 p.m. The times will change during the fall. Each youth who participates receives a meal each day. All services are being provided free of charge.
"The voters of Jackson County made this possible," said Peters Baker. "So, thank you to all of you. Thank you for (renewing) the COMBAT tax in 2009. Without it, we couldn't be here -- we couldn't be celebrating this new initiative."
The ultimate goal of this collaborative effort is to improve assistance to Jackson County residents through providing drug prevention programs and services in a safe and constructive environment.
"I know by the city and county working together this Drug Prevention & Resource Center will help us do great things," said Garza Ruiz, "for our residents, our community and our larger community of Jackson County."
Two local organizations are providing counseling services at the resource center, with an emphasis on curtailing violence.
The Niles Home For Children offers counseling focusing on teen-dating violence. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reports that one in 11 adolescents is a victim of physical violence inflicted during a dating situation. According to the CDC, such victims are more likely to engage in risky sexual behavior, binge drink, use drugs or attempt suicide. The Niles Home is also available to offer drug counseling.
The Rose Brooks Center provides outreach counseling and advocacy services for victims of domestic violence. Rose Brooks' services seek to empower victims, supporting them in their efforts to secure employment, child care and safe housing.
The Freedom Fire program at the Clymer Center emphasizes improving reading and math skills. Starting this fall, the W.E.B. DuBois Learning Center will also provide tutoring services at the Clymer Center for students in grade 2 through 12.
The Girl and Boy Scouts are one of three mentoring programs offered through the Resource Center.
Also, the First Call "Helping Our Kids" program seeks to prevent children from using drugs through helping them establish personalized plans for a healthy lifestyle. The 12th Street Heritage Development Corporation's mentoring program targets youths 14 to 20 for workshops and seminars covering topics that include "Becoming a Productive Citizen in the Community" and "Avoiding Drug and Alcohol Use."
This fall, the Jackson County Sheriff's Office will also begin offering its Junior Deputy program at the Resource Center.
Problem Identification & Referral
A drug prevention coordinator from United Inner City Services will identify youths who have already used drugs or developed substance abuse problems, then refer them to an appropriate treatment option. The coordinator will also provide information -- through brochures, health fairs, public service announcements, etc. -- about the prevalence of substance abuse and the psychological, physical and social damage it causes.
The Housing Authority's Youth Build Drug Prevention Program, likewise, is raising awareness about the risks associated with drug abuse, including its impact on physical health and maintaining stable employment. The program's objective is to give participants the skills to resist drug use, while urging them to participate in constructive activities.
The Local Investment Commission (LINC) after-school and summer programs for elementary- and middle school-aged children offers games, sports, music, group discussions and other activities designed to promote self-esteem through group interaction.
Meanwhile, the Pythons Drill Team offers programs in five core areas: 1) Character and Leadership Development; 2) Education and Career Development; 3) Health and Life Skills; 4) The Arts; and 5) Sports, Fitness and Recreation.
The Clymer Center Game Room is also available for use.
Job Readiness & Life Skills
The United Services Community Action Agency's comprehensive job readiness training program includes individualized job coaching and case management, in addition to job search assistance.