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New Program Focuses on Substance Abuse Recovery for KCS Students

KNOXVILLE, Tenn. — A new program between Knox County Schools, Knox County, the Boyd Foundation and the McNabb Center hopes to combat substance abuse in high schoolers.

The Elevate Program would support students in recovery and provide support treatment while also focusing on academics.

It's been years in the making and now coming at a time when it's needed more than ever.

"1 in 5 families have been touched through substance use or abuse," said Mona Blanton-Kitts with McNabb Center.

The program would help during process that's sometimes difficult to transition back into.

"What was missing was something that would partner with a school system to allow a child not only to excel at school but to do that sober and while they continue their healing journey," said Blanton-Kitts.

She said the benefits are huge.

"We don't want children to have to choose between healthy, emotionally and physically. and substance free," she said. "When they return to their high school, there's a 90% relapse rate we see. So when there is a recovery high school like this program that drops to 30%."

The program would help drop the relapse rate and increase a student's chance to succeed allowing them to heal and excel.

"It's going to allow children the opportunity to be able to go on to secondary school, apply for community colleges, universities, decide what vocation they want to go in," said Blanton-Kitts.

Knox County Education Association president Tanya Coats believes the program will help with challenges within the district.

"We've had some challenging times over the last five years with students dealing with social emotional challenges," said Coats. "This is the right step in the right direction."

The program is slated to begin in the fall focusing on ten students in its first year and expanding as time goes on.

The Knox County Board of Education will vote on the program next Wednesday.

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