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SRSLY Youth Build Prevention Skills in D.C.

Representatives from SRSLY have returned from Washington, D.C., where they joined more than 3,000 substance misuse prevention specialists and advocates from throughout the country for the Community Anti-Drug Coalitions of America (CADCA) 30th Annual National Leadership Forum, held Feb. 3-6 at the Gaylord National Hotel and Convention Center.

With nearly 500 youth in attendance, the forum broke its record for youth involvement. Seven SRSLY Chelsea youth attended the conference and participated in the Youth Leadership Initiative to learn how to apply CADCA’s prevention model in their own communities.

“CADCA was a great experience, and I learned a lot,” said Chelsea High School junior Evie Dowsett. “I was able to grow closer with our SRSLY group, which will allow us to work better as a team in the future.”

On Wednesday, forum attendees went to Capitol Hill to meet with their local representatives and advocate for prevention. Youth from SRSLY Chelsea and SRSLY Manchester met with staff from the offices of U.S. Representative Tim Walberg, Senator Debbie Stabenow and Senator Gary Peters.

During these meetings, the youth talked about the importance of national funding for prevention and the need to do more to address the youth vaping epidemic.

“At the CADCA conference this year, I learned a lot about different ways to implement change in our community,” said CHS junior Abbie Dobos. “I had such a great time advocating at the Capitol and making new friends!”

SRSLY youth also worked with the CADCA trainers to develop a logic model and strategies to combat youth vaping in Chelsea. Their first step will be to design posters to educate more youth about the harmful effects of vaping/e-cigarette use.

Several national prevention leaders also spoke about the youth vaping epidemic, including Dr. Nora Volkow, director of the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA), and Jim Carroll, director of the White House Office of National Drug Control Policy.

CADCA’s National Leadership Forum is the nation’s largest training event for community prevention leaders, treatment professionals and researchers. The Forum covered a wide range of topics – everything from how to prevent prescription drug misuse to addressing the increase in e-cigarette and vape use. The conference also covered trending marijuana issues and how to develop policies to reduce underage drinking.