A record number of UNITE Clubs have been established for the 2019-20 school year.
There are165 UNITE Clubs in 26 counties with a total of 9,462 registered student members serving southern and eastern Kentucky. Student registration is the fourth largest since inception in the 2005-06 school year – behind last year’s record-setting 10,215 students, 9,719 in the 2017-18 school year, and 9,472 students in 2012-13 school year.
UNITE Clubs – designed for students in grades 4-12 – help youth develop healthy attitudes and behaviors by learning and practicing life skills, enhancing academic performance, connecting peers, adults, communities and learning through service. Youth are involved in developing and conducting activities designed to help make their schools and communities healthy and drug-free as well as mentoring younger students.
Clubs are broken into three levels – fourth and fifth grades, middle school, and high school. In addition to anti-drug activities within their school, UNITE Club members are provide mentoring to younger students and engage in community service projects throughout the year.
On November 8, 2004 – just 18 months after Operation UNITE was incorporated – Fifth District U.S. Congressman Harold “Hal” Rogers launched a “Drafting An Army” education initiative with hundreds of students, elected officials and other community members in Breathitt and Whitley counties.
The education initiative, part of a $1.6 million education initiative geared toward schools across southern and eastern Kentucky, was designed to assist with prevention and intervention efforts before addiction could take its toll on the futures of the students.
Students – who wore T-shirts with the saying “Hal’s Pals” – recited a drug-free pledge as part of their “enlistment” into the war on drugs, received dog tags with the message “Heroes Stand Up Against Drugs,” and signed a large copy of the pledge for display at their schools.
The prevention measures of the plan included offering incentives for implementing student drug testing and employing liaisons in the three educational cooperative areas that served Rogers’ district who could serve as a resource for curriculum development, staff training, and establishing anti-drug classes.
In July 2005, funding was provided to formalize the current UNITE Club structure.