Youth coalitions go to nation’s capital, anti-drug leadership forum

Students of the Washington County Youth Council looking across the mall at the Washington Monument, District of Columbia, February 2016 | Photo courtesy of Kaysha Price, Southwest Utah Public Health Department, St. George News

ST. GEORGE — Youth representatives from Washington County Youth Coalition spent five days in the District of Columbia, joining more than 2,700 substance abuse prevention specialists and advocates from across the country for Community Anti-Drug Coalitions of America’s 26th annual “National Leadership Forum.”

This is the county youth council’s third year attending the annual conference, but this time they partnered with youth from Kane Community Youth Coalition and Panguitch Youth Coalition, two coalitions that were formed and modeled after Washington County’s coalition, according to a news release from the Southwest Utah Public Health Department.

“We had so much fun with other youth from across the country, learning and improving our prevention skills so our community can be a better place,” Jarom Price, youth advocate from Pine View High School said, as quoted in the news release. “We hope to one day have a community that doesn’t suffer from the harms of drug and alcohol abuse.”

The Community Anti-Drug Coalitions “National Leadership Forum” is the nation’s largest training conference for community prevention leaders, treatment professionals and researchers, according to the news release. It and Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration’s 12th “Prevention Day” took place Feb. 1-4 at the Gaylord National Hotel and Convention Center in nearby Maryland.

While in the District, the news release said, the three youth councils from Southern Utah gave a presentation to Rep. Chris Stewart, Sen. Orrin Hatch and Sen. Mike Lee’s health advisers on substance abuse concerns – specifically about the 200 percent increase in use rates of e-cigarettes among youth.

“It was really awesome to get to speak with our leaders and see first hand the difference we can make,” Emma Marchant, a junior from Desert Hills High School, said as quoted in the release.

“Youth have a passion and wisdom that our leaders want to here (sic),” Kaysha Price, Washington County Youth Council adviser said, per the release. “We know they are making a difference in our community, our State, and even nationwide.”

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