By Alisha McDarris
For Hometown News
INDIANTOWN - A $20,000 donation from a local philanthropist made it possible for Tykes and Teens to finally bring Project Northland to Indiantown Middle School.
It's the same alcohol and drug prevention program already implemented in the other four middle schools in Martin County.
Since 2008, Indiantown Middle School has been the only Martin County Middle School without such a program. Tykes and Teens, a nonprofit organization dedicated to serving area children and their families, heads up programs in the other schools, but never had funding for Indiantown, until now.
"We're really excited to be able to expand the program to the western end of the community," said Darcy Flierl, Tykes and Teens Director of Prevention.
The donation for Project Northland, a comprehensive prevention program designed to modify community attitudes toward youth substance use, came from Elisabeth Lahti. Her name is synonymous with charitable giving in Martin County where the library in Indiantown bears her name.
"She is a generous and wonderfully kind individual," said Paula Hundt, Tykes and Teens director of development .
It was Ms. Hundt who spoke to Lahti last year and introduced her to Project Northland. When she explained that Indiantown had a need that a lack of funding wouldn't allow Tykes and Teens to fill, Ms. Lahti jumped at the chance to help.
The $20,000 will go toward purchasing books in several languages, educating teachers and providing funding so the students can take part in community-wide projects like the Project Northland Poster Contest.
The program will only be implemented in the sixth grade this year, but will continue into the seventh and eighth grades in the next two years. The students will explore myths of underage drinking, learn to say no to drugs and alcohol and research the effects of alcohol on the teen brain.
"Every young person can benefit from having the correct information," Ms. Hundt said. "We think it's a great start for the children and look forward to growing the classes each year."
Ms. Flierl said the $20,000 will go quite a way toward providing the students with materials and counseling, but Tykes and Teens is always looking for new donors and sponsors to support the well-being of children of all ages.
For information on all Tykes and Teens does and how to donate, visit www.tykesandteens.org.