Augusta Free Press, Rebecca Barnabi
Enrollment is open for a peer leadership opportunity that fosters healthy communities and the prevention of substance abuse.
The Virginia Alcoholic Beverage Control Authority’s (ABC) Youth Alcohol and Drug Abuse Prevention Project is an annual program that begins with a kick-off conference July 17 to 21 at Longwood University in Farmville. Registration of a team of four high school student participants and one adult sponsor is required.
“Peer-led substance use prevention is a proven effective path for young leaders to take a stand to create positive change and promote healthy behaviors among youth in the Commonwealth,” Virginia ABC Director of Education and Prevention Katie Crumble said. “Given the upheaval of the past few years and its impact on our youth, the program offers timely tools created specifically to help students navigate pressures and enable them to make smart choices.”
Students attend topical workshops facilitated by peer leaders, hear from well-known motivational speakers, learn peer leadership and prevention best practices and develop a Strategies To Act Now (STAN) Plan to address substance abuse among peers. Teams compete for $250 mini-grants to use seed money toward their STAN Plan and the $500 Wheeler Award to sustain continued prevention efforts.
The discounted enrollment rate of $500 per team is good through April 30, afterward the price increases to $600 per team until the June 1 enrollment deadline. The fee includes conference materials, lodging, meals and year-long coaching and support for adult sponsors as they aid their team in implementing its STAN Plan throughout the school year.
In the opening conference, adult sponsors participate in their own track, receive resources and training on topics that will help them support their team, and are eligible for continuing education units and professional development hours. Law enforcement officers are eligible for partial in-service credits through the Department of Criminal Justice Services.
While working on their prevention plans, students can expand their experience as peer leaders by applying for YADAPP youth staff positions and progressing through four levels of leadership with increasing responsibilities. Each level starts with the youth leader role acting as a guide for conference participants, and build to the top level of serving as conference interns. YADAPP interns are college students who spend 10 months planning aspects of the program including curriculum development and youth staff training.
The program began in 1984, and approximately 450 different high schools and community organizations and more than 12,000 students have participated in YADAPP.