White House grant aims to curb drug abuse in Louisville's West E - WDRB 41 Louisville News

White House grant aims to curb drug abuse in Louisville's West End

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LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) -- The White House is pouring money into the west end to fight drug abuse and prevent kids from getting addicted.

In the hidden alleys of the Shawnee neighborhood, sometimes in boarded up, abandoned homes, Diamond Jackson says there are kids using drugs. 

"They start as young as nine and 10, honestly," Jackson said. 

"It's bad," she added.

"Oh yeah, I have a lot of friends kind of going down that wrong path that I'm trying to help bring back."

The community Jackson calls home now has $625,000 to help in the fight. The money from the White House Drug Policy Office will support juvenile drug prevention programs. The grant was awarded to the Shawnee Transformation Youth Coalition. Leaders say they will focus specifically on, marijuana, alcohol and tobacco use: substances with the highest abuse rates among teens and the easiest to get. 

"It is our hope that we can spur more involvement from the community, from the churches, from the parent," said Monica LaPradd, coordinator for the Shawnee Transformation Youth Coalition. "We believe...this will create an energy for more people to get involved."

Jackson will play a key role as a member of the Shawnee Youth Advocates -- a group of teens who authored a report on the biggest factors leading kids to drugs. 

"They're doing whatever they have to to live," Jackson said.

It is one of the poorest neighborhoods, not only in Kentucky, but all of America. The hope is that this money will help break the cycle, not only of drug abuse, but high crime.

"The White House, in providing this funding, believes that the community is the most prepared and equipped to address this issue," LaPradd said.

Leaders planned their first event Nov. 13 at the Shawnee Arts and Cultural Center: a family fun night, aimed at giving kids alternatives to the streets. 

"I mean, it has to start somewhere," Jackson said.

Jackson says the best way to break the cycle of drug abuse is to get to her friends before they start. 

"You have a lot of teens who just fall off -- people who don't really care, and with this we're hoping to bring awareness to the community about what's happening and bring everyone on the right path," she said. 

On Friday, Nov. 13, there will be a check presentation and press conference at 5 p.m. at  the Shawnee Arts & Cultural Center at 607 S. 37th Street. That will be followed by a Family Fun and Movie Night from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m.

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