Virginia ABC grants support efforts to prevent youth substance use

virginia abcA series of workshops to educate their peers on the dangers of e-cigarettes and a run/walk event organized to promote healthy activities have earned members of a Virginia Beach youth coalition a $500 grant from the Virginia Alcoholic Beverage Control Authority.

The Wheeler Award, given annually to a school or organization participating in Virginia ABC’s Youth Alcohol and Drug Abuse Prevention Project, rewards ingenuity and successful completion of plans developed by student teams from all over the state who take part in the year-long YADAPP program.

High school students from the Virginia Beach Mayor’s Youth Leaders in Action (MYLA) program were this year’s winners for their efforts to prevent vaping amongst their peers.

YADAPP is a peer leadership program that begins each summer when high schools and community groups send teams of four students, assisted by an adult sponsor, to a five-day kick-off conference. Teams broaden their knowledge of substance use prevention and work together to create strategic prevention plans known as Strategies to Act Now (STAN) Plans, to be implemented during the following school year. Awards for outstanding STAN Plans are announced the following year.

The Virginia Beach team, was concerned about the use of e-cigarettes they saw and created a prevention strategy dubbed, “Be Smart, Don’t Start,” to educate students about the risks associated with vaping. MYLA will use the grant money to sustain and further prevention efforts during this school year.

Established in 1986, the Wheeler Award honors Morris and Billie Wheeler for their dedication to youth substance use prevention. The Wheelers’ daughter Sandy was killed by a drunk driver in 1981. For more than 30 years the Wheelers supported the prevention efforts of Virginia ABC and other organizations to promote youth leadership and prevent drunk driving.

“Our community partners work each year through the Youth Alcohol and Drug Abuse Prevention Project to secure a safe and drug-free environment for Virginia youth,” said Travis Hill, Virginia ABC chief executive officer. “As other recipients of the Wheeler Award before them, the Mayor’s Youth Leaders in Action’s initiative is inspiring. We want all students to achieve personal success and continue to build stronger communities and peer networks.”

Virginia ABC also named five YADAPP teams who participated in the YADAPP 2021 program winners of mini-grants for their STAN Plans. Schools or organizations represented by the student teams will receive $250 to support their substance use prevention efforts. Mini-grant recipients include teams representing the following schools and communities:

  • Bishop Ireton High School (Alexandria)
  • Communities Helping Improve Local Lives (CHILL) Coalition (Franklin County)
  • Henrico Too Smart 2 Start Coalition (Henrico County)
  • Heritage High School (Newport News)
  • Page Alliance for Community Action (Page County)

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