Friday, August 10, 2012

Back To Work!!!

Next week I will be presenting a workshop at the annual National Association of Alcohol and Drug Abuse Counselors (NAADAC) in Indianapolis.  The theme of the conference is "Leading the Way" and I will be encouraging participants to be bold and to try something different.  My presentation will focus on empowering youth to Lead the Way to improve conditions and address school culture and risky teen behavior. 

I am an advocate for putting youth in the driver's seat instead of the back seat.  Adults can navigate and help steer through rough patches in the road,  however the majority of the driving should be done by the next generation of decision-makers.  Examples of this type of movement that we hav been involved in include: 
(1.) youth in Montana reclaimed an area around the high school football field where adults drank while watching the football games,
(2.) students at a Pennsylvania high school successfully negotiated for a "Homework Free Wednesday" once per month at a school who was addressing a serious stress problem,
(3.) Texas students took charge of creating new traditions to replace previously banned activities and events by changing student behavior and increasing personal responsibility and
(4.) a Massachusetts "Take it Back Night" was led by youth who challenged adults in the community to face a generational problem of alcohol and heroin abuse.

Young people across the country represent an often untapped power.  Youth can provide a resource for change when we enlist them in seeking solutions through authentic work, to address any number of issues facing our schools and communities. 

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