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Oregon City Together board member: 'Renewal of these grants is critical because youth are especially vulnerable right now.'

Prevention is now more important than ever. The Clackamas County Commission's ongoing commitment to preventing youth marijuana use is shown by its renewal of the county's youth substance abuse prevention grants in the budget year began on July 1. Oregon City Together (OCT), a Drug-Free Community Coalition, applauds the commission for continuing its investment in our youth's futures, and we invite all Oregon City residents to do the same.

Brian ShawThe county's youth substance abuse prevention grants are funded with retail marijuana tax dollars. Using marijuana tax dollars to mitigate the effect of legal recreational marijuana on our young people makes a lot of sense and …. cents. According to the American Public Health Association, every dollar spent on prevention saves at least $5.60 in health spending farther down the road. This does not count the immense value in terms of preventing addiction's trail of broken lives, destroyed families and unfulfilled potential.

The renewal of these grants is critical because youth are especially vulnerable right now. Teens are bored, stressed and anxious. Uncertain about the future. No school. No camps. Little personal contact with friends. Worries about family's finances. The list is long. And a jump to early drug use could be short. The most recent Oregon Student Wellness Survey shows stressed and anxious students use marijuana and alcohol two to three times more than other students. Adding to the risk is the fact that July is a peak month for first-time youth drug use.

To address these issues, Oregon City Together will continue implementing proven prevention strategies including building youth resiliency skills and supporting positive parent actions that influence what kids do. We are in our third year of receiving a Clackamas County Youth Substance Abuse Prevention Grant, allowing OCT to reach more youth and more families in Oregon City.

The county grant is supporting a summer high school student initiative of peer-to-peer outreach to younger teens. It is also helping OCT provide anxiety-reducing tools to youth and families, parent outreach and community education.

So, again, please join OCT in thanking the Clackamas County Commissioners as well as the dedicated staff of the Clackamas County Health, Housing and Human Services Department and its Division of Children, Family & Community Connections. Their commitment to prevention is commendable.

Brian Shaw is an Oregon City Together board member.


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