The Young Marines, a national youth organization, is the winner of the 2015 Fulcrum Shield Award for Excellence in Youth Anti-Drug Education from the Department of Defense. The Young Marines won for its national drug demand reduction campaign, unveiled in 2014 and titled, "Closing the Gate on Drugs."

Washington D.C. (PRWEB) October 19, 2015

The Young Marines, a national youth organization, is the winner of the 2015 Annual Fulcrum Shield Award for Excellence in Youth Anti-Drug Education. The award was presented on Thursday, October 15, during a special ceremony in the Hall of Heroes at the Pentagon, Army Navy Drive and Fern Street, Arlington, VA.

The award is given annually by the Department of Defense, and recognizes military-affiliated youth organizations around the world that have made intensive efforts at spreading anti-drug messages in local communities. The Young Marines won for its national drug demand reduction campaign, unveiled in 2014 and titled, "Closing the Gate on Drugs." It consists of lessons that help young people learn and practice new skills and strategies for resisting drugs.

"We created a youth anti-drug campaign that is uniquely our own," said Michael Kessler, national executive director and CEO of the Young Marines. "We promoted it to the membership, and they carried the message to their communities. This was a team effort from start to finish. We are grateful to the Department of Defense for recognizing the efforts of thousands of Young Marines and volunteers in promoting our 'Closing the Gate on Drugs' campaign all across the country."

To date, more than 1,000 senior Young Marines (high school age) and registered adult volunteers are certified in Project Alert, an education curriculum that targets middle school and elementary school students in learning about the drugs most often encountered in their environments. These "gateway drugs" include tobacco, alcohol, inhalant abuse, marijuana and over the counter/prescription medication.

"In a 22-year career in law enforcement, I never arrested anyone for methamphetamine, heroin, cocaine or any other perceived 'more dangerous' drug that didn't start abusing one of the gateway drugs first," said Joe Lusignan, the Young Marines' drug demand reduction resource officer. "We focus on the gateway drugs because these are the drugs our school age children are more likely to be exposed to and tempted by."

By becoming certified in the curriculum, the Young Marines are given classroom proven techniques on teaching, classroom management and factual information on the subject matter. In addition, each unit received kits that include stickers, tri-fold flyers, pledge forms, slap bracelets, activity books, key chains with a USB drive of the program and feedback forms. These printed materials are being distributed not only to the 280 Young Marines units but to schools and youth organizations in the communities as a part of the outreach program.

This program removes the old visual of the adult standing in front of the class lecturing the audience that ‘drugs are bad.' The program puts the power into the hands of the youth members, and it gives them not only the education about the drugs themselves but also the tools to resist the temptations they evoke.

"As a youth organization, our contention is that if we can reduce the desire for our youth to experiment with or abuse the gateway drugs," Lusignan said, "they will never make the leap to the others."

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The Young Marines is a national non-profit 501c(3) youth education and service program for boys and girls, age eight through the completion of high school. The Young Marines promotes the mental, moral and physical development of its members. The program focuses on teaching the values of leadership, teamwork and self-discipline, so its members can live and promote a healthy, drug-free lifestyle.

Since the Young Marines' humble beginnings in 1959 with one unit and a handful of boys, the organization has grown to 280 units with 7,000 youth and 2,500 adult volunteers in 40 states, the District of Columbia and Okinawa with affiliates in other countries.

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