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National Prevention Week Spotlights Youth Commitment to their Peers

By Dawn M. Mass, CCPRD SUPS Project Associate

On a national level, 2021 marks the 10 year anniversary of National Prevention Week (NPW), an annual health observance aimed at increasing public awareness of, and action around, mental health and substance misuse.

National Prevention Week is held each year during May. Originally, SAMHSA chose this timing because it is near the start of summer, an important time for schools, communities, and prevention professionals to re-focus on prevention.

For example, adolescents and full-time college students most often use substances for the first time during June or July, according to SAMHSA's National Survey on Drug Use and Health 2012 data on adolescents and 2015 data on full-time college students. With this in mind, the events and activities of NPW step in to create awareness and strengthen overall community health. NPW is also the perfect time to promote and celebrate the prevention efforts of schools, agencies, communities, and coalitions that take place all year round!

This year National Prevention Week is May 9-15 and the youth of the CPYD Coalition, despite over a year of remote and hybrid learning, are rallying to promote positive mental health and substance use prevention.

Directly related to prevention, students will be posting SAMHSA’s substance misuse “data visualizations” on Social Media and Schoology each day of NPW. They will also be sharing tips with parents and caregivers about having difficult conversations with their teens, Elk Grove High School’s Youth Advisory Council (YAC) is creating a “What Prevention Means to Me” interactive mural, and these are just a few examples of the prevention messages our youth will be sharing.

What has changed this year is an increased focus on positive mental health. With the protective factors of peer and community connection jeopardized, students are looking out for each other more than ever.

This year’s Coalition Town Hall Meeting “Prevention at the Drive-In,” which falls during National Prevention Week, spotlights this peer-to-peer commitment. The “drive-in” setting itself expresses a student's desire to be together. Coalition and community members, students, and families will gather in the Trickster Cultural Center parking lot.

Together they will form a community drawing (one carload at a time), they will visually share affirmations on an interactive art wall, and the results of the combined YAC mental health, hybrid learning, and relationship violence survey will be shared. Student’s will invite us to laugh during “Zoomed Out!” - an original YAC production about spending a school year (and then some!) on Zoom, and then we will “Zoom In” with a youth panel discussion about what students need to stay safe, supported and substance-free.

Plan on attending this year’s CYPD Coalition’s Town Hall meeting, and support our students in supporting each other.

The Town Hall meeting will be held on Wednesday, May 12 from 7:00 - 8:45 p.m. at Trickster Cultural Center.

You can register for a “carload” (vehicle seating) or as a “walk-in” (outdoor seating). That parking nearby and “walking in” are welcome to bring a blanket or folding chair.

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