Andrea Zhou and Emily Young both believe they would not be the confident leaders they are today without their summer trips to Farmville over the past four years to take part in the Virginia Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control’s (ABC) Youth Alcohol and Drug Abuse Prevention Project (YADAPP). This is the fifth year the former Colonial Heights High School classmates and now college students will participate in the teen leadership conference, but the first time as interns, the event’s top leadership role.
YADAPP is a youth-led program that empowers young adults to become involved in keeping their communities alcohol and drug free. Hundreds of motivated high school students gather annually at this five-day event, which features engaging workshops and presentations. In addition, participants discuss issues young adults face in school and create customized Strategies to Act Now (STAN) Plans to deter high-risk behaviors. The students implement these plans during the following school year.
High school students who attend YADAPP have the opportunity to network with young leaders like Young and Zhou, who have participated in previous conferences. They are two of only five college students who make up the group of interns who began as YADAPP attendees and worked their way up to become conference leaders. Interns are selected the year prior to the conference and start planning nine months before the event. This year’s conference takes place July 20–24 at Longwood University in Farmville.
“YADAPP interns are crucial to the success of this event,” said Virginia ABC Education and Prevention Manager Katie Weaks. “Their responsibilities range from planning the conference agenda to helping train youth leaders and from preparing materials to coordinating activities. The interns build leadership skills and gain marketing, logistics management, budgeting and public speaking experience. Perhaps most importantly, they provide inspiration to the younger students and motivate them to spread a message of prevention at their schools and in their communities.”
“Five days and an open mind can change everything!” Zhou, a student at the University of Virginia, says. “YADAPP has taught me to have more confidence in my ideas and decisions. It has also given me valuable leadership skills that have been extremely useful in many aspects of my life, and I continue to be drug and alcohol-free because of YADAPP.”
For Young, who attends the University of Mary Washington, YADAPP has been “a positive and encouraging place to be” every summer. “The experience has changed my life,” she says. “It has given me the desire to live a life free of drugs and alcohol, and I want to be able to influence others to feel the same.”
YADAPP teams are made up of four high school students and one adult sponsor. Student participants are rising ninth through twelfth graders. The adult sponsors are affiliated with a high school (guidance counselor, teacher, resource officer), involved with a community group (parks and recreation, teen council) or belong to a faith-based organization (youth group leader).
Early enrollment, which opens March 2, costs $300 per team until April 30. The price then increases to $400 per team until the July 10 enrollment deadline. The fee includes room and board at Longwood University and all workshops that are part of the five-day conference. Online enrollment is available at www.yadapp.com.
Since its inception 31 years ago, more than 10,000 students from 440 Virginia high schools and community organizations have participated in a YADAPP event.
The Virginia Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control (ABC) is a major source of revenue for the commonwealth, contributing more than $1.8 billion to the general fund in the last five years. The agency currently operates 350 state stores. Its Bureau of Law Enforcement oversees more than 16,000 ABC licensed establishments while the Hearings and Appeals Division considers more than 700 cases each year. The agency also provides alcohol education and prevention programs for people of all ages. Now celebrating its 80th anniversary, ABC remains committed to progress and innovation in carrying out its control, service and revenue mission.
Colonial Heights Young Adults Serve in Leadership Role for Student-led Summer Conference