JOHNSTOWN — The Hamilton, Fulton, Montgomery Prevention Council has received $2,500 from the Stewart’s Holiday Match program to buy books for all of the students that participate in its evidence-based substance abuse prevention program.
The council has reached at least 1,000 students so far this school year in 38 classrooms in the counties it serves and distributed 5,000 to 6,000 books, according to its associate executive director, Rachel Trackenmiller.
“Without [the Holiday Match], we probably wouldn’t be able to do the books,” she said. “This is our busy time of the year.”
Teaching youngsters drug and alcohol prevention strategies includes promoting academic achievement.
“The more they are committed and connected to school and the more academically successful they are” the less likely the students are to fall into substance abuse, Trackenmiller said.
Therefore, HFM distributed books after students have completed the substance abuse prevention program, she said. The youngsters are given pre- and post tests to determine how much they have learned.
Every few years, the agency also does a survey about substance abuse and generally abuse has been “trickling down” in the area, she said.
The books are purchased from Scholastic at “a good price” and are age-appropriate, Trackenmiller said.
“The teachers love it,” she said.