PELHAM — Leaders of a new community campaign to combat drugs hope to fund a peer counseling program for students.
The program would be one of the first steps taken by the Pelham Community Coalition.
The group kicked off with a forum earlier this month for parents as well as activities with an anti-drug message in schools for students.
The coalition’s motto is: “Planting Foundations for Good Decisions.”
Selectman Hal Lynde, who is organizing the effort, said the application for federal funds will be made as soon as this week.
Superintendent Amanda Lecaroz said $20,000 will be requested.
The peer counseling program would be aimed at helping students make better decisions, Lynde said.
“We hope we can have an impact on kids,” he said.
The community’s Medical Reserve Corps also is supporting the effort, Lynde said.
Pelham would try to create a program similar to Dover’s youth program, which delivered an anti-drug message at Pelham Elementary School.
Lecaroz said an anti-drug message can have a positive effect when it comes from other students. The Dover program estimates 150 to 200 students, from both the city’s public and parochial schools, are involved with the group’s activities. Coordinator Dana Mitchell describes it as a “youth empowerment program,” one that not only teaches students about the substance abuse problem, but helps them identify and implement solutions.
“This has huge benefits,” Mitchell said.
Students gain skills in areas such as public speaking. Mitchell said Dover students have researched the drug abuse issue and testified before the Legislature.
Students also will have to make a commitment that Mitchell compares to that of playing on a varsity sports team. There also is an advantage that comes with fellow students delivering an anti-drug message, rather than adults, Mitchell said.
“There is nothing wrong with important messages from grownups, but a grownup cannot be a peer by definition,” he said.