BERKELEY COUNTY, SC (WCSC) - Berkeley County is taking some extra steps to help prevent underage alcohol and tobacco and drug use.
The National Drug Control Policy has given the County a $625,000 5-year grant to help promote drug free communities.
"The Kennedy Center is one of those hidden gems in Berkeley County, some people know about them some people don't and they do a lot for the community that may go unnoticed," says alcohol enforcement team coordinator in Berkeley County, Lt. William Schreurs.
Drug Free Communities Coordinator of the Kennedy Earnest E. Kennedy Center, Leah Reason says with the extra funds the Kennedy Center plans to get out in the community more.
"We're going to do a lot of education in the community for our youth, on tobacco and the consequences of starting early and continuing to use as you get older, and we're also looking at underage use of marijuana," says Reason.
The Kennedy Center offers several programs to educate youth, parents and retailers about underage alcohol use and ways to help prevent it. One of the sessions they offer is the Palmetto Retailers Education Program.
"Basically giving them [retailers] those basic facts of what they need to do and how to adequately not only check IDs but what their store setup could look like," says Reason.
It also teachers the retailers how to have a refusal of sale if the customers are underage. Programs like this aim for prevention and make it more difficult for adolescents to again access, but the center deals with intervention too.
"Where the youth are ticketed at school for having any kind of tobacco paraphernalia whether it be a lighter, rolling papers, a cigarette, e-cigarettes," says Reason. "So their sent here for a class where they can receive education from that program."
Although drug and alcohol use among adolescents is an issue for the county, the Kennedy Center in collaboration with other agencies has made progress in cutting down access to teens.
"From where it was when we first started to now you can definitely see the difference and we hope to continue that to keep those numbers low," says Lt. Schreurs.
The Berkeley County Prevention Board also wants to hear from the community. The board is open to suggestions about how to use these funds to meet the needs of different communities in Berkeley County.