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Encouragement (Guest Blog)

By Kenya James, a member of MADD’s National Teen Influencer Group

Encouragement is inspiration that enlightens others to pursue success or motivate them to keep pushing toward a goal to be achieved. It is the gas that drives your mind into helping others celebrate their good doings. For my purpose, it is encouraging my peers, underage teenagers, to continuously push through peer pressure, temptation, and any other factors that try to hinder the message that underage alcohol usage is very dangerous, and it can harm one’s brain development.

A teenager is exposed to a variety of pressures, and I appreciate the people that are still keeping their commitment to not drink under the age of 21. I love the idea of encouraging and rewarding people that help make this choice, so I invite these people to different enjoyable events as a safe haven.

My current SADD group entitled “Jackets Against Destructive Decisions” gives teenagers an outlet to have fun, but keep that commitment. We normally have a Homecoming after party with games, music, and fun to allow those people to still have a good time without the involvement of alcohol. The reason I do this is to let my peers know that they are not alone and that there are always others making right decisions among the wrong.

I also display my affection for the families that are greatly impacted by the tragic events of drinking and driving. I do this by participating in MADD’s Walk Like MADD event and encouraging others to walk with me. Walking side by side makes a statement that we are going to stand for what we believe and hope it spreads like wildfire.

I love sharing encouragement, so I am active in SADD and MADD to encourage youth to keep going strong in making healthy decisions—the Power of You(th). We have influence, and will someday change the word.

Kenya James
12th grade
Denham Springs High School
Denham Springs, LA




Take a Stand Against Underage Drinking this Spring Break

Underage drinking is not only illegal, it’s dangerous. In fact, teen alcohol use kills about 4,700 people each year — more than all other illegal drugs combined. And over two-thirds of all deaths associated with underage drinking are not on the roadways—they're things like homicides, suicides, alcohol poisonings, falls, drownings, burns and other causes of deaths.

That’s why this spring break, MADD wants all teens to know that even though it may seem like everyone is drinking, research shows that three out of four high school students DON’T drink alcohol.

As a teen, you have so much to look forward to – graduating, pursuing a career, having a family. High school is only a few years. The choices you make today will impact your entire life. Take a stand against underage drinking to give yourself, and the people you love, the best head start.

Check out some of these resources we’ve created to help parents, teens and communities work together to keep this spring break fun and safe:



Teens: Get our research-based teen booklet to learn how you have the power to stop underage drinking.

 Parents: You can be part of the solution by downloading the latest version of the Power of Parents handbook.

Schools and Communities: Download the Power of You(th) Toolkits for educators and community partners.





Power of You(th) Toolkits Now Available

At MADD, we know that our hopes for a safer future are riding on tomorrow’s drivers. By getting today’s youth off to a good start, we are taking a giant step toward fulfilling our vision of a nation without drunk driving. That’s why we’re focused on tackling underage drinking, a problem that threatens the safety of our kids and endangers entire communities, now and down the road.

In anticipation of spring break and the upcoming prom and graduation season, we worked with our National Teen Influencer Group to come up with a toolkit for students, educators and community partners that offers tools to help prevent underage drinking, and the many lives lost as a result. This toolkit, sponsored by State Farm, was created and approved by teens, for teens.

Included in the toolkits you will find:

  • Fact Sheet (great for classroom discussions)
  • Contest and Daily Activity ideas
  • Alcohol free party game ideas
  • Communication templates
  • Ideas for activation around Red Ribbon Week, prom, graduation and other holidays
  • And more!

Let’s work together to empower teens and parents to take a stand against underage drinking!


MADD National Teen Influencer Named Town of Huntington's Woman of the Year

MADD National Teen Influencer Sarah Haiken was recently named as the 2014 Woman of the Year by the Town of Huntington as part of their Thirteenth Annual Women's Networking Day and Awards Ceremony. The annual event is designated as a time to recognize and honor extraordinary women for their exemplary accomplishments and contributions benefitting the community.

Sarah received this award for her active and dedicated advocacy for MADD, including her participation in MADD’s National Teen Influencer Group for the past three years. Sarah created a program focusing on the dangers of underage drinking and getting into a car with someone who has been drinking. As part of the program, she has teens sign a pledge not to drink before their 21. The program has thrived and to date, she has had hundreds of teens sign the pledge and over 50 volunteer for the program. She also arranges for local law enforcement involvement.

Sarah is a Junior in high school, runs long distances for cross country and track. In 2011, Sarah was awarded a Woman of Achievement award from the Long Island Press and since has received numerous citations and proclamations for her work to prevent underage drinking. She also currently sits on the New York State Governor's Board for Teen Safe Driving for the second year in a row.

Congratulations, Sarah, and thank you for all you do to save lives!


Fall 2014 MADDvocate

The Fall Issue of MADDvocate is now available. Read the latest issue of our online magazine that is helping survivors survive.


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