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      The United Way targets 3 areas of need in Adams County

      No one who lives in Adams County would deny that it's a great place to live, learn and raise a family. But that doesn't mean it's problem free.

      The United Way of Adams County has identified some of those problems as part of a new plan to improve the long-term quality of life for all of us.

      Only 26 percent of Illinois 12th graders are proficient in math. Only 40 percent of that same group is proficient in reading.

      Eighteen percent of Adams County children live in poverty.

      These are only two of the many facts that the United Way has gathered.

      To turn these and other statistics around, the agency will spearhead an attack on 3 crucial areas ... Education, Income and Health.

      Cheryl Waterman, the Executive Director of the United Way of Adams County says we've all been effected by problems in these three areas.

      "I think that there's been an effect because of these issues on the community for a long time," Waterman said. "But only when we looked at the data and started looking at different statistics and issues side by side did we recognize that this has been building for some time. It's probably not anything new but it's the underlying causes for some other problems in our community."

      Some of the other facts that have been uncovered are reasons for real concern in our community.

      Such as this one: Sixty-five percent of 12 graders in Adams County report drinking some sort of alcoholic beverage at least once in the previous year and 19 percent of 12th graders said they drank more than 20 times in that same year.

      Or this one: Twenty-seven percent of 12th graders in the county said they felt so sad or hopeless in the past 12 months that they stopped doing their normal activities, 15 percent of that same group said they seriously considered suicide.

      Mike Mahair is the co-chair for the community building project.

      He says this approach is by no means comprehensive.

      "We understand that there's a lot of things we can address, but we want to accomplish something," Mahair said. "We want to show the community that we're moving the needle, that we're making progress."

      "If our children are ready for school, can read well by third grade they're gonna be sustained in a great job in our community, keep our community strong in the workforce area and probably have a better health status also. In the long run we're gonna have a healthier, better educated, more vibrant community. And that means great things for all of us," Waterman said.

      $70,000 has been set aside to get the initiatives started.

      Waterman says this program does not affect the regular service the United Way provides throughout the year.