Newport News natives Dakota Rust and Morgan Ryan will serve as interns for the Virginia Alcoholic Beverage Control’s (ABC) 2018 Youth Alcohol and Drug Abuse Prevention Project (YADAPP).
The youth-led substance use prevention program is launched during a five-day conference held annually at Longwood University, which is set this year for July 16-20. 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 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.
Both Rust and Ryan have participated in YADAPP for four years. Rust, a Warwick High School graduate and now a student at Virginia Commonwealth University in Richmond, explained that participating in YADAPP has inspired her to help others avoid the dangers of substance use. “Through YADAPP, I have been able to look at life through a different lens,” she said. “Keeping high school students on the right path is very dear to my heart.”
Ryan, a Heritage High School graduate, now a student at the University of Virginia in Charlottesville, also wants to help guide others through the year-long program that has had a profound impact on her life.
“YADAPP has shown me a different outlook and instilled important values into my life,” said Ryan. “These values revolve around remaining drug and alcohol free and treating others with respect.”
High school students who attend YADAPP have the opportunity to network with young leaders like Rust and Ryan, who have participated in previous conferences. Prior to their selection as interns—YADAPP’s top leadership role—Rust and Ryan were youth staff members in the program. Interns begin as YADAPP attendees and work 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.
“It is exciting to see students involved in the YADAPP program grow and develop over four years to have increased knowledge of substance use prevention, increased confidence among their peers, and increased commitment to staying substance free,” said Virginia ABC Education and Prevention Manager Katie Weaks.
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).
“As these students enter their intern year at YADAPP, they will gain real-life experience in budgeting, marketing, curriculum development, planning and training that will be a strong stepping stone for their chosen fields of study,” said Virginia ABC Chairman Jeff Painter.
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 34 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 $1.9 billion to the general fund in the last five years. The agency currently operates 370 state stores. Its Bureau of Law Enforcement oversees more than 17,000 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 84th year, ABC remains committed to progress and innovation in carrying out its control, service and revenue mission.
Newport News YADAPP Interns