Jonah Bolton credits the year he has spent participating in the Youth Alcohol and Drug Abuse Prevention Project (YADAPP) with a greater understanding of the negative impacts of drug and alcohol use. “I have realized the major effects and toll drug abuse can bring. I am now passionate about this cause,” said Bolton, a student at James River High School.
The Eagle Rock teen will join about 60 others from around Virginia tapped to serve as youth staff for YADAPP, a year-long program coordinated by the Virginia Alcoholic Beverage Control Authority (ABC). The program begins with a week-long conference to develop plans to combat underage substance use across the Commonwealth. The conference is set to take place July 15-19 at Longwood University in Farmville.
For more than three decades, enthusiastic teams of Virginia high school students have convened for a week in the summer to brainstorm ways to inspire their peers to keep their schools and communities alcohol-free and kickoff a yearlong partnership for substance use prevention.
“Peer leaders are integral to the success of YADAPP,” said Virginia ABC Education and Prevention Manager Katie Crumble. “We are very proud of the outstanding students who donate their considerable time and energy each year to promote a healthier community.”
Each year peer leaders guide and coach student participants through the YADAPP program, which requires that each team in attendance develop Strategies to Act Now (STAN) plans. The plans are created to prevent high school substance use within their own school and/or community.
YADAPP has given rise to many innovative and collaborative programs over the years to promote safer and healthier lifestyles. Some of those have included school policy reform, after-school prevention education initiatives offering alternate activities and campaigns to encourage healthy behaviors.
According to the University of Michigan’s 2018 Monitoring the Future Survey of 8th, 10th and 12th grade students, 18.7 percent reported using alcohol in the past 30 days.
In addition to the YADAPP program, Virginia ABC offers many education and prevention initiatives to combat the misuse of alcohol, including a grant program that annually awards funds to community organizations for alcohol education and prevention programs across the state.