It’s February 3rd, at 5:00 am and Youth Prevention Coordinator, Olivia and I (Jesse Brooks, Director of Substance Prevention) are climbing the stairs of a commercial bus that sits in the chilly Mt. Abraham Union High School parking lot. Along with nine students and two teachers from Mt. Abraham Union School District (MAUSD), Olivia and I found our seats and settled in for what was a 12-hour drive to National Harbor, Maryland to attend CADCA (Community Anti Drug Coalition of America) Youth Leadership Forum 2020!
At CADCA, students and staff are presented with 4 full days of training that covers a wide span of substance prevention-focused topics such as community building, public health, youth leadership, networking, public speaking, and more!
As part of the CADCA experience, we participated in Capitol Hill Day. Along with 63 other like-minded Vermonters, we focused on educating our Vermont Senators and House Representatives on the importance of substance prevention funding. The day began by preparing for our legislative meetings with House Representative Peter Welch, Senator Patrick Leahy, and Senator Bernie Sanders.
On Capitol Hill Day, students are the voice of prevention, they prepare and deliver messages of substance prevention to share with our representatives. UWAC Youth Prevention Coordinator, Olivia was one of several students who talked about the importance and value of including youth in substance prevention stating: "if it's about us, it should include us."
Olivia’s message resonated with House Representative Welch and with the staff members of Leahy and Sanders. In each meeting, the students were not only thanked but were encouraged to keep working towards healthier and safer communities with the promise that our legislative representatives would be working towards the same goals.
United Way of Addison County believes that youth are an integral part of creating positive changes in our communities, which is why we invest in our youth through paid UWAC positions and opportunities to participate in activities, programming, and training to better equip our youth, and continue to strengthen and sustain the health and safety of our communities. We were grateful (and not surprised) to hear that our legislative representatives feel the same and we appreciate their continued support for substance prevention funding.
The team of prevention experts at UWAC works towards reducing youth substance use and we work alongside our youth to accomplish this. As the great Babe Ruth once said, “It’s hard to beat a person who never gives up” - we know we will be successful because we will not give up, and when we can no longer do this important work, our youth will be ready to pick up where we left off.
Thank you to the wonderful group of students and staff who represented the United Way of Addison County at CADCA 2020: Justice Green, Shayna Block, Olivia Brooks, Evan Logan, Katie Howard, Bridger Counter, Madi Shepard, Carly Counter, Emily Larock, Jessica Colbreth, Ann Pollender, and Ryan Cornellier!
To learn more about CADCA please visit: https://www.cadca.org/forum2020 or reach out to our team of prevention experts at United Way of Addison County: