The Warwick Valley Prevention (WVPC) was founded in December 2009 by the joint efforts of the Warwick Community Center and the Warwick Valley Central School District. Evidence from the DFC National Evaluation suggests that hosting a youth coalition is a promising practice that strengthens youth engagement in local substance use prevention initiatives. Our Youth Coalition, known as the Youth Task Force (YTF) was founded in 2016, when we received Mentor DFC funding.
Four key activities were identified:
- Provide opportunities for youth to lead the planning, implementation, and evaluation of coalition activities, particularly those geared towards other youth.
- Work with youth to plan activities that foster strong connections among families, schools, and communities.
- Find the “right” adult mentor for the youth coalition. Coalitions should recognize that some adults may be more highly skilled in building positive relationships with youth and should work to find the right adult mentor.
- Identify and address challenges that may create barriers to working with youth. DFC coalitions noted challenges such as transportation, scheduling, youth turnover and recruitment, and a limited understanding of youth culture and diversity.
Since that 2016, members of the YTF have participated in Reboot: Prevention Focus, a summer leadership program which occurs each year. Reboot explains the components of the Strategic Prevention Framework. Members have also completed a community scan for alcohol at local restaurants and businesses, and participated in planning Sticker Shock events to raise awareness around alcohol and marijuana.
In keeping with our goals of supporting a healthy lifestyle and creating leadership opportunities for youth, we are proud to report that we have retained 27 members of our Youth Task Force (YTF), despite shutting the Community Center (where we usually meet) in March 2020 due to COVID-19. The YTF continues to work on prevention service projects virtually and in person with social distancing limits. They recently completed our first alcohol PSA and are already planning one about marijuana. They also participated in Red Ribbon Week (October 23-31) by creating a PSA about peer pressure.