The Newport News Department of Human Services’ Youth Services Unit is working with local students to help them learn to lead peers in preventing substance abuse. Thirteen Newport News students attended the 2017 Youth Alcohol and Drug Abuse Prevention Project (YADAPP) Conference at Longwood University in Farmville this summer along with staff from the Youth Services Unit. YADAPP is a year-long high school peer leadership program that begins each summer. Schools and communities across Virginia send teams of youth to the five-day conference, where the youth develop action plans to address substance use in their schools and communities.
During the conference students were divided into four teams and attended daily sessions, led by youth facilitators, to learn leadership skills and explore issues among youth. They worked to understand concepts and create a plan to address an identified issue related to substance abuse in the Newport News. The Strategies to Act Now or “STAN Plan” was presented to and evaluated by student peers to determine potential effectiveness and possible consideration for receiving a mini grant for implementation. One of the Newport News teams was awarded a $250 grant to facilitate a youth overnight “lock-in” to promote healthy alternatives to substance use and abuse.
David Duck, a Youth Program Specialist with the Newport News Department of Human Services and an adult sponsor stated, “It is crucial for students to participate in youth-driven conferences like YADAPP. When students interact with like-minded peers from outside their neighborhoods, it lends them a very unique perspective. While one of our teams won a mini-grant, all four of our teams worked hard, played hard, and ultimately left empowered to lead the charge of discouraging youth substance abuse in Newport News.”