Description of original award (Fiscal Year 2018, $500,000)
The Mentoring Opportunities for Youth Initiative, Category 4 (Project Sites and Mentoring Strategies for Youth Impacted by Opioids) supports youth mentoring organizations that have a demonstrated partnership with a public or private substance abuse treatment agency. The focus of this category is to provide mentoring services as a part of a prevention, treatment and supportive approach for those youth impacted by opioids. This program is authorized and funded pursuant to Pub. L. No. 115-141, 132 Stat. 348, 423.
The Lexington Leadership Foundation (LLF), in partnership with the Knoxville Leadership Foundation and substance abuse partners Necco (KY), Metro Drug Coalition (TN), and Cherokee Health Systems (TN), will develop the Appalachian Mentoring Initiative (AMI) to provide mentoring services to youth up to age 17. Participating youth will be selected based on the following criteria: youth identified as having a parent/family member who is or has been engaged with opioids, youth engaged in personal drug use or past drug use, youth involved in the foster care system due to a parents drug use, and youth living in communities or attending schools with high levels of opioid use. In particular, the program will target youth in rural communities where there are limited resources available to address the effects of the opioid crisis.
The AMI is intended to prevent future opioid use by youth who have been impacted by opioids by providing them with caring adult mentors, providing opioid prevention education, and connecting youth and their families to support services. Participating youth will also improve relationships with their parents and develop quality peer relationships. Core program objectives will include recruitment of 333 youth from the target populations; recruitment of at least 85 mentors, who will be thoroughly screened and trained; and provision of opioid prevention education from mentors and guest speakers focused on understanding the dangers of opioids, refusal skills to use when offered drugs, and separating myth from fact. In addition, parents/guardians of mentees will receive resources on how to protect their homes from opioid misuse, how to talk to their kids about drugs, and how their involvement can be a protective factor against opioid misuse.