By Communications & Outreach Coordinator Rachelle Alongi

Evergreen Council on Problem Gambling (ECPG) is proud to announce the recipients of this year’s Youth Problem Gambling & the Arts (YPGA) Grant: Greater Maple Valley Community Center (Maple Valley) and Shelton High School SADD Club (Shelton). Each year, at least two Washington State schools/colleges or youth-based organizations are selected to create a program or project using the arts to educate their peers and community about youth problem gambling awareness and prevention.

Maple Valley will use YPGA Grant funds to create an ipad/phone app with an original song that educates the player about the warning signs of problem gambling, types of gambling, and how to have a healthy balance in life. The Shelton High School SADD Club (SADD stands for Students Against Destructive Decisions) will create a rap music video about the consequences of problem gambling and the advantages of youth making healthy choices.

Since 2009, ECPG has partnered with Behavioral Health and Service Integration Administration (part of Washington State Department of Social and Health Services) to offer the YPGA Grants. Youth are at a higher risk of developing a problem with gambling, and youth oftentimes enter into adulthood without knowledge of the risks involved with gambling. Although many individuals gamble for fun and recreation, eight percent of youth—that’s double the adult rate—struggle with a gambling problem or addiction.

Fortunately, many programs, such as the YPGA Grants, provide youth and young adults a creative environment where they can develop and share important awareness and prevention messages relevant to their peers and communities about a disorder that is often overlooked, misunderstood, or underestimated.

Each year, ECPG is excited to see each recipient’s final product as well as hear how much students have learned or taken away from the YPGA Grants experience. This year will be no exception. Best of luck to Maple Valley and Shelton on this year’s projects!