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Spa City group helps youth live healthier lives through a myriad of services

Prevention Council School Services director Pat Marin shows guests the difference between a smoker’s lung and a healthy lung.

Prevention Council School Services director Pat Marin shows guests the difference between a smoker’s lung and a healthy lung.

— If there’s one thing that will probably remain a constant, especially when it comes to youth, it’s problems caused by substance abuse.

In Saratoga Springs, one group has been fighting those issues for the past 30 years. The Alcohol and Substance Abuse Prevention Council, widely known as The Prevention Council, at 36 Phila Street, is celebrating its30th anniversary this year.

Programs run through The Prevention Council include Too Good for Drugs, Too Good for Violence, bullying prevention, homeless youth, drop out prevention programs and many others. All are focused on helping kids succeed.

Heather Kisselback, The Prevention Council’s executive director, replaced the organization’s founder Judy Eckman two years ago. She is happy to be working in the field and points out The Prevention Council offers partnerships and services to the community that go beyond alcohol and substance abuse, although those aspects are at the group’s core.

“I really enjoy this field and knew it was a pivotal time because we were about to hit 30 years and so much was changing. It was a nice transition from Judy to me as far as that past, present, future kind of look on where we’re at,” said Kisselback.

The Prevention Council started in the 1970s with Eckman and some of her friends forming peer-based programs in area schools, according to Kisselback. For a few years, it was a grassroots effort and was officially incorporated in 1979.

Director Patty Kilgore has been with the organization for 23years and started as a counselor. Back then, the center was known as ASAP, or the Alcohol and Substance Abuse Project. She recalls that the staff more than doubled at that time and they were employing cutting edge prevention programming in the schools.

“We’ve always stayed above the curve trying to have foresight on what’s needed. … Early on it was a lot of guesswork and fortunately we did a terrific job and it panned out that as research came out that the things we were doing were working,” said Kilgore.

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