The Youth Academy held its first of many forums Wednesday night on the topic of substance abuse.
Six panelists met at the Academy Programs' gymnasium to discuss the current problems with drug and alcohol abuse and ways to stop the problems before they start.
The panelists included Michael Aloi, Marion County Circuit Judge; Dr. Doreen Larson, Pierpont Community College President; Rocco Fucillo, Cabinet Secretary of the West Virginia Department of Health; Matthew Kittle, Administrator of the Office of Institutional Education; Wade Linger, President and CEO of TMC Technologies; and Steve Fairley, Executive Director of Academy Programs.
The Youth Academy houses at-risk children and their families and also serves as a full-time school for the children.
Children range in age from 12 to 21 years old, and the Academy can serve 12 males and 10 females at a time.
The symposium is important for many reasons, and according to Fairley, one main reason is because substance abuse is not only affecting our youth and families, but many other things as well.
"This issue is epidemic in our state, so what we've been trying to do since we expanded our services, and looking to expand again, is how do we as a state deal with this because it's affecting not only our children and families but work force, education, the legislative, judicial and everything," said Fairley. "So that's why we assembled the panel we had tonight."
This was the first forum of this nature held by The Academy with many more to come.