Richmond County schools hear plan to deter meth use

Correction, January 20, 2010: The Georgia METH Project was misnamed in Tuesday's edition. (Highlight changes)

METH could soon be coming to Richmond County schools, and officials hope this anti-drug campaign gets there before the drug it's named after does.

At a Richmond County school board committee meeting last week, Pete Caye -- a representative with the Georgia METH Project who also has been a fundraising official for the Salvation Army's Kroc Center idea in Augusta -- said students need to be warned of the dangers of methamphetamine.

"We're asking you as leaders of the school system to step forward and get this awareness program before our kids," he said, noting that he'd like to bring the three-year program to the area not only for students, but to assist others, too.

Caye said the program's goal is to raise $500,000 for advertising and start the program in Augusta by March.

He said he wasn't asking the school board for funding but did seek approval to present to students the program, which includes several videos that dramatize the results of getting hooked on the drug.

"It's pretty direct stuff," he said of the videos, one of which depicts two parents who are afraid of their child as he attempts to break into their home.

Caye told the school board he hopes parents and others hear about the program and donate money to spread the cause further.

"It's horrible," Caye said of the drug, noting how 90 percent of those who use it just one time become addicted.

METH officials say a similar program enacted in Montana has proved successful, with a 2009 study showing first-time meth use in the state has dropped 63 percent among teens since the program's inception in 2005.

Caye was told the idea would have to first be approved by the Richmond County school system's Family Dynamics Committee, which would then forward a recommendation to the school board.

After seeing some of the program's videos, several board members gave early support for the program last week.

"This is something we've got to get ahead of before it happens," said board vice president Alex Howard. "Once it starts, it's gone, OK, and it's going to go fast."

Board member Jimmy Atkins agreed, saying, "This is a very worthwhile project."

Caye said he also would present the idea to other area counties.

Reach Preston Sparks at (706) 828-3851 or preston.sparks@augustachronicle.com.

ON THE WEB

For more information on the Georgia METH Project, visit http://www.georgiamethproject.org