The Hamilton County Coalition gives youth an opportunity to learn facts about underage alcohol/tobacco use and drug abuse, along with providing a platform to spread awareness and make tangible change in their communities. The Y.E.S. (Youth Empowerment Society) mainly collaborates during summer months and special occasions throughout the school year like National Drug and Alcohol Facts Week®.
Since we could not meet with the youth in person for National Drug and Alcohol Facts Week® due to COVID-19, we decided to hold virtual meetings with the youth to talk about different substances and what they are facing as youth in present time. We met on Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday March 31-April 2 for an hour. We would use this time to either watch a short video or play an educational game where they would have to answer questions on underage drinking, vaping and marijuana to name a few.
Afterwards, we would discuss what we learned and talked about why they answered questions the way they did. This would open the conversation to what they have seen with their peers and offer suggestions on how they can encourage their peers and friends to not partake in these unhealthy activities.
To raise awareness, they were tasked with creating memes on either underage drinking or vaping to be put on social media so our community members can see what our youth think about these substances and educate the public in a fun/creative way. Additionally, we asked them to also send their favorite inspirational quote. This can be a very tough and hard time for people right now and having some encouraging and inspiring words from young people can ease some worries that people may have.
National Drug and Alcohol Facts Week® is only for this week, however, we plan to continue meeting with the youth during this time a few times a month to talk about life and continue educating them about substance abuse during this weird time of isolation.