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Civic groups sign on for prevention programs

November 18, 1997

WASHINGTON (AP) _ Civic groups from across the nation pledged to collaborate in the fight against drugs Tuesday, promising to serve 1 million hours in volunteer time between them.

Joined by the White House’s drug policy director, Barry McCaffrey, about 30 national organizations representing more than 50 million people signed a civic alliance to work together on youth drug prevention.

McCaffrey emphasized the role of community groups, ``the heart and soul of America,″ in reaching out to children.

``There couldn’t be a more important commitment,″ McCaffrey said. Groups ranging from the Girl Scouts to Rotary International promised their efforts, capping a three-day conference on drug prevention strategies.

McCaffrey said drug prevention isn’t just about teaching kids, but ``is also about giving kids a positive alternative.″

Participants suggested creating leadership opportunities for youths, providing adult mentors and holding youth summits as ways to spread the message.

Group leaders said the alliance reaffirmed the need for people to fight together.

``People used to put their heads in the sand and think drugs were someone else’s problem,″ said Viola Bostic of the Big Brothers Big Sisters of America program. ``We need to have a wake-up call.″

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