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Grand Futures hopes to provide youth with healthier activities this fall

Mari Katherine Raftopoulos

— Their mission has never changed.

Grand Futures’ goal is to provide alternative healthy activities to substance abuse for the community, said Grand Futures’ Moffat County Director Chad Kiniston.

“Everything we do is geared toward our motto,” Kiniston said. “Our goal is more of a vision. We want individuals to realize that underage drinking doesn’t have to be such a big deal.”

Executive Director Mary Housely, who oversees Moffat, Routt and Grand counties, is new to the staff since the end of July. She is in the process of learning the ropes of her new job but sees her role in Grand Futures as the networker.

“I want Grand Futures to have a voice in every community,” Housely said. ” I want us to be on the map and people to know and really understand our goals.”

Her passion and excitement for the new job will help her achieve this, Housely said.

Lowering the rates of underage drinking is the one of Grand Futures’ main goals, Kiniston said. Recent surveys reveal the Craig community is ranked one of the worst places in the state for underage drinking, he said.

“Studies show that in our community, an alarming number of youth start drinking habitually under the age of 13,” Kiniston said. “That is a scary number, so that is why we need to fight the problem.

Grand Futures also aims to educate and discourage drug use in the area.

“Drug abuse is not nearly as engulfing,” Kiniston said. “(Our numbers) match the state norms and some are even below average.”

To try and reach youths before they abuse drugs and alcohol, Kiniston said the group hosts events such as this week’s Summer Splash at the Craig Swimming Complex. Fifth- and sixth-graders enjoyed the party Tuesday, and the event for seventh- and eighth-graders has been postponed to 8:30 p.m. Thursday.

“Summer Splash, which we do once a year, gives the kids a really positive message before school starts,” Kiniston said. “It shows them that they can have fun without going to a party and have a healthier lifestyle.”

Some other programs students and parents will see this year include campaigns during homecoming, prom and graduation, Red Ribbon Week activities and an interactive Web site for the youth and parents.

Once she gets more settled in, Housely also wants to see more places for teens to hang out.

“I would love to see a coffee shop that is open late at night, where the youth could play music and be with there friends, and say, ‘I love this place,'” Housely said. “Even an art studio where kids could display their art would be great.”

The only way this non-profit organization can continue with these programs and these new ideas is through grants and donations, the directors said. But in past years, there has been a lack of community financial support, Kiniston said.

“The people that we receive grants from look at how many local donations we receive and when we are behind in funds, it really hurts us,” Kiniston said. “To have a really successful year and do all these events, we must have local funds, too.”

For more information on Grand Futures, visit http://www.grandfutures.org or call Kiniston at 824-5752.


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