Shawnee neighborhood hopes $1 million grant will curb youth drug abuse

WDRB 41 Louisville News

LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) — Drugs, alcohol and tobacco products can be a dangerous combination in the hands of young people — and one west Louisville neighborhood is doing something about it.

Youth substance abuse has been a problem for years in the Shawnee neighborhood, and so far, not much has changed that. But some people believe a $1 million federal grant will do the job.

With its beautiful Victorian style homes, Louisville’s Shawnee neighborhood was once home to some of the city’s wealthiest families. But times have changed and so has the neighborhood.

“At one time, I had problems with drugs and alcohol,” says Larry Tyus, A Shawnee Neighbor.

Tyus admits, in his youth, he was part of the problem. He wants to help others avoid making the same mistakes.

“It’s not a glamorous road that you want to see people go now.”

Tyus is one of a handful of people who attended an informational meeting at the French Plaza in the Shawnee neighborhood Wednesday afternoon.

“We are hoping to engage members of the community to serve on a coalition that will focus specifically on youth substance abuse and use,” says Monica LaPradd, with the Shawnee Christian Healthcare Center. “Within the Shawnee neighborhood…youth substance abuse is very prevalent.”

That’s why the organization is applying for that million dollar federal grant that will focus on eliminating youth substance abuse in Shawnee. “It will promote healthy lifestyles and so the substance abuse leads it negative behaviors.”

And this may be a first, organizers are so anxious, even desperate to find answers that they went right to the source. They talked to teenagers at places like the Academy @Shawnee.

“Holding focus groups, asking them where do they get it, how accessible, how do their family members feel about their use and so now we are here at this point and we have an opportunity to continue the work and grow the work.

Larry Tyus has lots of young people in his family and wants to make sure the work does happens. He says, “It doesn’t just involved my kids, I want to make sure that we are being able to reach out to all kids.”

The grant money will be spread out over ten years. The people writing the grant have until the end of the month to form the coalition.

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