Virginia ABC grants to support youth leadership efforts to prevent substance use

virginia abcA group of Franklin County teens’ efforts to educate teachers, parents and community leaders about the concealed use of vape products, drugs and alcohol in their school and community have earned the youth coalition a $500 grant from Virginia ABC.

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

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 the strategic prevention plans, 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 Franklin County team, Communities Helping Improve Local Lives (CHILL) Coalition Team 2, was concerned about the drug and alcohol use they saw daily and created a prevention strategy to educate parents and teachers about products on the market and what to look for in their homes and classrooms.

The coalition will use the grant money to sustain and further prevention efforts during this school year.

“Chill Team 2 from Franklin County was very excited to begin with their strategic implementation plan as soon as they got back home [from the 2019 YADAPP conference],” said Pamela Chitwood, Associate Director of Community Impact in Franklin County for United Way of Roanoke Valley and the team’s YADAPP adult sponsor. “Their passion to educate others about prevention and substance abuse was what engaged our school staff, community leaders and parents.  Building platforms where youth drive the way we learn how to keep our children safe and healthy is how our community will continue to make positive change. We are grateful to bring the Wheeler Award back to our school to guarantee the sustainability of this plan.”

Established in 1986, the Wheeler Award honors Morris and Billie Wheeler for their dedication to youth substance use prevention. The Wheeler’s 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.

“As other recipients of the Wheeler Award before them, the Communities Helping Improve Local Lives Team 2 is inspiring,” said Travis Hill, Virginia ABC chief executive officer. “We value our community partners who through the Youth Alcohol and Drug Abuse Prevention Program work each year to secure a safe and drug-free environment for Virginia youth. 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 2020 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:

  • Battlefield High School (Prince William)
  • D. Hylton High School (Prince William)
  • Henrico High School (Henrico)
  • Heritage High School (Newport News)
  • Virginia Beach Mayor’s Youth Leaders in Action (Virginia Beach)

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