One of the most important issues our City deals with is drug use among our youth. Almost since cityhood, Santa Clarita has funded programs and services aimed at educating our community to the perils of drug use. Together with our Sheriff’s Department, school districts, County of Los Angeles and several non-profit agencies, we have worked hard to provide the education, tools, and programming to prevent our youth from choosing to use drugs.
For more than 20 years, the City funded a program that provided elementary classroom education to students to instill the importance of avoiding drugs. In assessing the classroom presentations, it was determined that a hard-hitting, meaningful program in the junior and senior high schools was needed. A team of concerned, local professionals researched programs across the nation and landed on DFYIT—Drug Free Youth in Town—a program out of Florida that boasted a more than 90 percent success rate for keeping teens away from drugs.
DFYIT is a volunteer club run by teens for teens. In giving youth a voice, the program helps empower them to make good choices. DFYIT operates within junior and senior high school campuses across the Santa Clarita Valley and currently includes more than 1,200 members who have pledged to be drug and alcohol free and to spread the DFYIT message to their peers.
Each school’s DFYIT club reflects the culture of its campus with the common goal of increasing awareness of the negative effects of drugs and alcohol. Students enjoy a variety of activities, including motivational guest speakers, as well as community service opportunities, contests and lunchtime activities to name a few. Earlier this year, the DFYIT program hosted highly interactive assemblies that educated more than 3,500 sixth graders on the importance of making good choices.
Our goals to impact our youth, creating role models and providing a positive influence in our community, are being achieved through the DFYIT program. To date, 99 percent of DFYIT participants have remained drug free. DFYIT members have delivered their message to more than 24,000 junior and senior high school students and reached more than 1,000 sixth graders in 2013 and another 3,600 in 2014. As part of the program, an astounding 2,480 hours of community service has been completed by DFYIT members. Later this month, the League of California Cities is honoring Santa Clarita with the prestigious Helen Putnam Award for Excellence for the DFYIT program and its achievements during its first two years.
I want to personally commend our partners: the L.A. County Sheriff’s Department, L.A. County 5th Supervisorial District, and the William S. Hart School District for their commitment of time and talent to DFYIT and for helping keep our youth drug free. For more information regarding DFYIT, please visit the DFYIT website at: www.dfyitscv.com.