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Journal of Park and Recreation Administration

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Ground Zero: Volume 16, Number3 pp. 81-94 A Collaborative Substance Abuse Prevention and Intervention Progra01 for At-Risk Adolescents

Teresa C. King, Laura Valerius, John R. Collins, Jr.

Abstract


Research has indicated that the increase in violence and crime among juveniles can be linked directly to an increase in substance abuse among adolescents (Office of Substance Abuse Prevention, 1990). There has been a significant increase in youth violence that includes driveby shootings, harassment and intimidation of school students, weapons in the schools, and adolescent involvement in local drug trafficking (Fort Worth Gang Research Project, 1993). Researchers have linked such deviant behaviors with numerous risk factors such as being the child of a substance abuser, committing a violent or delinquent act, or abusing alcohol or drugs (OSAP, 1990). These risk factors help define the "at-risk youth." Many recreation programs are designed to address the needs of atrisk adolescents by providing such outcomes as increased self-esteem, freedom of choice, skill development, and physical activity. Although these outcomes are beneficial to adolescents, without providing knowledge and skills to combat the risk factors that are so pervasive in these adolescents' lives, the full benefit of the recreation program may not be realized. By integrating recreation programs with educational activities, adolescents may be more successful in attaining the desired outcomes of the recreation programs.

Ground Zero, sponsored by the Tarrant Council on Alcoholism and Drug Abuse, is a substance-abuse prevention and intervention program for at-risk adolescents. It is offered in collaboration with various recreation and other youth-service agencies. The program focuses on increasing skills and information needed to expand adolescents' choices for enhancing the quality of their lives. Ground Zero's effectiveness is apparent given the significant increases in scores from the beginning to the end of the programs. Adolescents gained knowledge of alcohol, tobacco, and other drugs, chemical dependency, community resources, and dealing with substance abuse within the family, as well as increased their own self-esteem through participation in Ground Zero. In addition, family members and friends of substance abusers have increased their knowledge of coping skills and community resources for their own support. By reaching 25,553 people, Ground Zero has impacted communities supporting adolescents. Tarrant Council received $365,000 from the Texas Commission on Alcoholism and Drug Abuse to initiate Ground Zero. There is no charge to adolescents and families. Program components are provided by eight trained intervention specialists who serve throughout Tarrant County. Ground Zero exemplifies an effective collaboration between social service and recreation agencies. Such collaboration is advantageous for the agencies as well as for adolescents within our communities.


Keywords


adolescents, at-risk youth, protective factors, risk factors, substance abuse

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