Rockville native Connor Walton understands the negative effects underage drinking and illegal drug use can have on a young adult’s life. It is something he has learned during the past four years as a participant in the Virginia Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control’s (ABC) 2016 Youth Alcohol and Drug Abuse Prevention Project (YADAPP). Walton is more than ready to help guide others through the program that has had a profound impact on his life. This is the fifth year the University of Virginia student will participate in the young adult leadership program, but the first time as an intern, its top leadership role. The year-long, youth-led illegal substance use prevention program is launched during a five-day conference held annually at Longwood University, which is set this year for July 18-22.
YADAPP empowers young adults to become involved in keeping their communities alcohol and drug free. Hundreds of motivated high school students gather annually at the five-day kick-off 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 alcohol and drug use. 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 Walton, who have participated in previous conferences. He is one of only six college students who make up the group of interns who began as YADAPP attendees and worked their way through three levels of peer leadership to become conference leaders. Interns are selected the year prior to the conference and start planning nine months before the event.
“The YADAPP interns set the tone for this event and contribute substantially to its success,” said Virginia ABC Education and Prevention Manager Katie Weaks. “Their responsibilities range from planning the conference agenda to helping train youth staff and from preparing materials to coordinating activities. The interns build leadership skills and gain marketing, logistics management, budgeting and public speaking experience. They provide inspiration to the younger students and motivate them to spread a message of prevention at their schools and in their communities.”
“YADAPP has not only opened my eyes to the negative effects that underage drinking and the use of drugs can have on someone’s life, but it has also taught me vital leadership skills,” Walton said. “The excitement, energy and atmosphere are truly life changing. And on top of that, you make life-long friends.”
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, coach), 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 1, costs $300 per team ($60 per person) until April 30. The price then increases to $400 per team until the July 1 enrollment deadline. The fee includes lodging and meals at Longwood University and all conference materials for four students and one adult for the entire week. Online enrollment will be available March 1 at www.yadapp.com.
Since its inception 32 years ago, YADAPP has strived to develop youth peer leadership that fosters substance use prevention at the state and local levels.
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 355 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 marking its 81st year, ABC remains committed to progress and innovation in carrying out its control, service and revenue mission.
Rockville Young Adult Serves in Leadership Role for Student-led Program