NPN collaborated with Community Anti-Drug Coalitions of America (CADCA) to provide youth leaders in the Pacific Northwest with the National Youth Leadership Initiative (NYLI). NYLI is a two and a half day seminar on assessing and implementing prevention strategies in youths’ unique communities.
NYLI works on the motto “Youth-lead, adult-guided” and is intended to mobilize youth in effective civic engagement. Youth and adult facilitators guided activities and discussions on leadership and how to use the strategic prevention framework. Youth facilitator Carlos Martinez summed up by saying, “Youth are not the leaders of tomorrow, but of today.”
YAK representatives Bella Brownlee, Grace Bruncke, Emma Fleck, and Kyle Towers identified the unique factors and conditions that contribute to underage marijuana use on the Long Beach peninsula. By mapping out their community, they identified that underage substance use primarily occurs in homes or at parties.
They went on to identify two major risk factors for use: 1) favorable attitudes, or low perception of harm, and 2) community norms.
Contributing to favorable attitudes were two local conditions: 1) students view marijuana as not harmful, since it’s a “recreational” substance, and 2) students self-medicate with marijuana to cope with stress.
Contributing to community norms were 1) parents and youth not knowing the laws on marijuana use and 2) parents associating marijuana use with “bad” youth, and therefore being unwilling to see potential use by their son/daughter.
YAK selected one of these local conditions, self-medicating to cope with stress, and brainstormed seven possible interventions or solutions. They discussed providing information and skill building on alternatives to coping with stress; providing additional supports and improving access to counseling, tutoring, and peer mentoring; creating incentives to access support services; creating a safe space room for students in crisis; and creating policy that requires teachers and staff to take Mental Health First Aid annually.
YAK is excited to take their logic model back to Ilwaco High School (IHS). They hope to implement and collaborate with other student groups on intervention strategies related to school stress.