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City considers youth program

By By ANNA M. LEE Assistant Editor
At last week's Brewton City Council meeting, council member Dennis Dunaway proposed that the city look into "Communities That Care," a program that focuses on alleviating youth problem behaviors like substance abuse, violence and teen pregnancy.
The city council formed a committee -- made up of Dunaway, council member Cary Barton and Brewton director of community development Pete Diurno -- to find out more about how "Communities that Care" could work in Brewton.
The program, administered by Channing Bete Company, is now being used in more than 400 communities in the United States and in Australia and Europe. Mobile County was the first to implement the program in the state of Alabama.
The goal of "Communities That Care" is to remove risk factors for youth problems and to prevent problems instead of reacting to them.
Dunaway thinks the program could be useful for all of Brewton, "from Sowell Road to Alco Drive."
Now Dunaway and the city are working through the community development department to gather information about the program that Dunaway will then present back to the council at its next meeting.
This week, Dunaway is attending a workshop in Montgomery to help him become more familiar with what "Communities That Care" could offer.
If the city decides to move forward with participating in the program, the first step is to conduct a survey to assess and identify risk factors in the community.
The recommended plan estimates nine months for evaluation of the community and nine months to implement the program, but Dunaway says it may not take as long for a community the size of Brewton.
One major benefit of "Communities That Care" that it is an inclusive program involving the whole community and does not interfere with other programs that are already in place to deal with youth problems.
By involving business leaders the program could be successful in promoting the community and providing opportunities for businesses to bring in activities for youth, Dunaway said.