Tangi prevention project needs more funds

A coalition that has helped reduce substance abuse among youth in Tangipahoa Parish needs money to keep the project going, said Bridget Bailey of the group.

Tangipahoa — Reshaping Attitudes for Community Change Coalition was formed to fight impaired driving and underage drinking in Tangipahoa Parish.

While the TRACCC members wait to hear whether it will receive another grant to keep the project going, members said they continue to meet and come up with new ways to fight impaired driving and underage drinking.

The coalition began its work in 2008 when Tangipahoa Parish government hired a project director to build a coalition to address substance abuse issues in the parish.

That came after Tangipahoa Parish received $980,000, of the $11.75 million the state obtained from the Center for Substance Abuse to implement the Strategic Prevention Framework State Incentive Grant, Bailey said.

The purpose of the SPF process is to develop a system that coordinates planning, funding and evaluation for substance abuse prevention at all levels, she said.

The coalition has worked to create healthy attitudes and community wellness by addressing alcohol, tobacco and other drug abuse as a serious social and public health issue, Bailey said.

Members from various walks of life, including law enforcement, help fight impaired driving and underage drinking.

They have helped enforce alcohol restrictions at community events, provided alcohol prevention education and launched a media campaign to inform residents of the problems in Tangipahoa Parish, Bailey said.

The coalition has formed partnerships with eight local and state law enforcement agencies to establish multi-agency task forces to deal with underage drinking and driving while intoxicated.

Bailey said the group has held youth leadership events, helped train 25 local officers in conducting field sobriety tests and hosted meetings between young people and law enforcement officials.

It implemented a mandatory alcohol educational course for all minors convicted of first offenses of being in possession of alcohol and for all adults convicted of first-offenses of providing alcohol to a minor.

Coalition member and State Trooper Chris McClelland, said the group plans to continue training for local agencies, to look at reinstating funds for DWI overtime for officers and to continue funding to hold DWI checkpoints throughout the parish.

For information on the Coalition or how to get involved, call (985) 748-3211 or send an email to TRACC@tangipahoa.org.