By Donn Clickard, Executive Director
As the busyness and excitement of summer comes to an end and the pages of the calendar turn to fall, we often find comfort in the daily routines and things that are familiar to us. School within the Atascadero Unified School District (AUSD) has been in session for about one month, and the halls are filled with the excitement of seeing old friends, meeting new friends, and getting to know the expectations and routines of new teachers and the next grade level.
The teachers and administrators have worked tirelessly to prepare for the students to arrive in their classrooms and on the campuses. The Board at the Atascadero Greyhound Foundation (AGF) and the members of the LIGHTHOUSE Committee have also been preparing for the new school year to bring the support of our community to our youth and make this a successful year.
For our Board, fall means a big focus on the Annual Wayne Cooper Memorial Golf Tournament. The proceeds of this tournament are allocated to support the needs of the LIGHTHOUSE Atascadero Mentor Program (LAMP) being implemented at the Atascadero Middle School (AMS); as well as our financial commitment to the counselor that is designated on the Prevention and Early Intervention (PEI) Team serving our middle school students at the AMS and the Fine Arts Academy.
In addition to AMS, funds from the tournament support the Wellness Center Counselor at Paloma Creek High School and ACE Academy and the student-run LIGHTHOUSE Coffee Company. The date for the golf tournament is Oct. 9. Teams can contact Jeremy at Chalk Mountain Golf Course to register. If you’re not a golfer, you can support these programs by making a direct donation or purchasing a ball for the Ball Drop; $1,000.00 goes to the winner! Donations and ball drop purchases can be made online at atascaderogreyhoundfoundation.org.
Some ask why these programs are so important. The mission of the AGF is to bring awareness, prevention, intervention, and education of drug use to the youth in our community. Recent data released by the staff at San Luis Obispo County Behavioral Health shows that our county has seen a 64 percent increase in opioid overdose deaths since 2016. The presence of the deadly fentanyl drug is on the rise. In 2016 fentanyl was present in 18 percent of all opioid overdose deaths. In 2020 that number increased to 62 percent.
As we know, prevention is a hard thing to measure. However, one indicator that our message is reaching our youth is the California Healthy Kids Survey data (2017-18 and 2019-20), where 100 percent of our secondary students within AUSD self-reported never using heroin, which is not the case countywide. We provide and support programs that help prevent as many youths as possible from becoming involved with drugs and other substance use by providing healthy choices for leisure time and counseling for those who are affected by circumstances that bring stress to their life. We also provide support and intervention for those youth who find themselves struggling with drug use. The more youth we have in our community that are not involved with drug use, the more youth we have in our community who are healthy and thriving, learning to become the healthy adults of tomorrow.
We invite you to become involved and become a part of the solution.
Please contact us at atascaderogreyhoundfounation.org if you are interested in helping; help comes in many forms.