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by W. E. Clark, III 
An Ounce Of Prevention
Pay now or pay continuously later. Again we find ourselves in a priority fight. To be or not to be is the question. We who are interested in a strong nation of men and women or are we more interested in building more prisons and living in misery? To be builders of anything strong, it is important to understand the need for the proper tools and dedicated technicians. The tools referred to here are programs which build character and awareness. The technicians are those persons who use the tools to shape and bind in such a manner that aid boys and girls into growing to be strong, productive citizens. A great problem with dealing with the human animal is that there is no way to efficiently test the results of efforts used to develop an individual into a strong adult citizen at the time or soon after the building process. This alludes to processes of or programs of education especially. For any educator to even expect to find a tried and true method of evaluating the effects of programs which are designed to be one of the tools in the building of strong citizens is shortsighted and narrow. DARE is only an ounce of prevention or just one of the tools which is being used in this building process. For some reason, a large number of educators seem to exhibit a feeling that some kind of standardized test or statistical information can be applied to everything we do. If this were true there wouldnÕt be so many efforts to build so many more prisons and correctional centers. No one would have put forth such a proposal as was recently announced. The announcement of a plan to build a penal facility designed to have twelve hundred beds requiring a staff of five hundred is questionable at best. Such a proposal seems rather wasteful in light of the fact ratio of students to members of and educational staff is no where found in our society. One of the great problems of continuing to include the DARE program in our middle school seem to be a mere $83,000.00. This expenditure is small when compared to other things for which we provide funds. If anything there should be efforts to expand and to broaden the DARE program unless we have something better to offer. There are ways to find money to sponsor such programs as DARE programs. It is clear that we have no means of taxing income from illegal drug sales, but there are funds realized from many drug arrests and property seized during drug arrests. There is a possibility of adding a stronger tax on the purchase of alcohol and tobacco. Since many of the decisions and recommendations in our society frown on the use of these products, those who must indulge should contribute more readily to the prevention of such by our youth. It is high time for those citizens who feel that building a strong, well informed citizenry by investing more in youth education to stand up and be counted. If we continue as we are in placing emphasis on things other that our youth, which we seem to be having less and less time for, the pursuit of happiness and safety will be more of a lost dream.

Recreation for the city of Lynchburg has been a topic of many discussion. Whether to build a large complex or to build and to maintain recreation facilities in communities throughout the citv appears to be the quesfion. Most discussions seem to center around the economics of the two choices. There have even been suggestions about building a small complex with some emphases on making small investments in ommunity recreation. Regardless to how many discussions you hear about, there is the underlying idea that economics play the greater part in the ideas put fort. There are those who are busy promoting the idea as a means of making Lynchburg into a central sports center which would attract tournaments, regional conferences and tourism. The so called Sports Authority is said to envision drawing folk to Lynchburg for three or four day weekends. This in effect is a move to commercialize rather than to truly provide recreation for the citizens of the city. Such thinking and promotions have very little to do with the health of the city. Some important questions to be considered are: at's healthy about a city with lots of money while riddled with diseases? How can a city rid itself of infectious diseases when its every discussion is based on producing more money? The diseases referred to are crime, drugs, despair, fear, greed, tension and ignorance. It would be foolhardy to even think that any one program, such as recreation could cure or prevent the vast number of diseases found in this or any other city . It is wise to understand that recreation for the sake of recreation and not recreation for profit can be instrumental in curing and in many cases preventing some of the diseases. There is a need to promote a program of recreation that will serve each community as a unit within itself. Such a program could be designed to be available to each and every citizen within the boundaries of the city. When considering the economics of such programming, there is clearly a need for great expenditure of funds. Such an expenditure of funds require an understanding of source of such funds. If we can find fimds to try in our courts and to incarcerate criminals, we can surely find funds for positive recreational programs. Funds provided for recreation give greater return than prisons and correctional institutions. A great part of the crimes committed in today's society are the fruits of an unhealthy society. It is past time for us to find ways to invest in people to such an extent that boys and girls can grow up with minds that are healthy enough to build strong futures. Boys and girls should be allowed to be children until they have completed high school. The pressures placed on families today resulting from a devaluation of the dollar are truly debilitating. Those who live by greed and prey on others in an effort to build monuments to themselves create a most unhealthy environment for all. If people were afforded opportunities to recreate regularly and interact with each other in wholesome activity, the health of our conununities would improve remarkably. Boys and girls would learn to get along with each other, respect themselves, their parents and others in whom they come in contact. They could develop strong minds which would make good decisions and be positive contributors to society. Children with strong healthy minds and bodies grow up to be strong productive citizens. They likewise grow to be wonderful parents. One of the clearest pictures in our experience portray a group of children and adults who are growing or have grown up in an unhealthy society. In many cases. it is too late for many but not too late for all. If we would just put aside the greed and take steps to heal our sick society and to build a stronger society by investing in humanity a prettier picture will be before us. The interest from such an investment will not directly show up as figures in our bank statement. The interest will be in the form of peace and comfort living with our fellow citizens and in the long rtm, we will find a decreased need to support and build large prisons. Our streets will be safer, pain and suffering bought on by humans mistreating other humans will nearly disappear. W. E. Clark, III


Since May 15,1997



Copyright © 1997 Piedmont Area Journal. All rights reserved.
Revised: April 5, 1997.