What is the Youth Empowerment Coalition…

The MADD Gateway Office is currently in the process of creating a Youth Empowerment Coalition within St. Louis County.  We are recruiting Juniors and Seniors from these local schools to be a part of the coalition.  The goals and objectives of this particular coalition are to address the most current issues among their community and school involving alcohol and drugs.

Why we need this coalition…

This coalition is necessary in this area due to the fact that research shows peer influence plays a major role in the teen decision making process.  According to “Peer Attitudes Effects on Adolescents Substance Use: The Moderating Role of Race and Gender,” if their peers had an “indifferent” opinion on substance use then teens were associated with an increased use (Mason et al., 2014).  However, the same study discovered that teens whose peers disapproved were associated with reduced usage of these substances (Mason et al., 2014).  It was also discovered that females are at an increased risk for cigarette and marijuana use in comparison to males when it comes to peer influence (Mason et al., 2014).  By recruiting Juniors and Seniors for this coalition, it guarantees the coalition will continue for years to come.  Also, understanding that change can happen through their peers will assist in them continuing with being a positive influence throughout their lives.  We hope by coming together, each school will be able to provide feedback and useful tips to fight the issues they are currently facing, along with being able to set a positive example for the rest of their classmates by making this change.  Being able to learn how to conduct a search on prevalent issues within their community and learn how to identify a credible source regarding this information will be beneficial in their years to come.

Missouri VS Illinois Nicotine and Marijuana laws…

According to the study “Adolescent Alcohol Use is a Risk Factor for Adult Alcohol and Drug Dependence: Evidence from a Twin Design,” (2006) those who begin consuming alcohol at an earlier age are at an increased risk for “alcohol dependence and use, abuse/dependence on drugs.”  The Illinois Department of Public Health (IDPH) (2019) stated that their e-cigarette use among their high school seniors is “higher than cigarette use was 10 years ago.”  Illinois saw an increase from 18.4% to 26.7% among high school seniors (IDPH, 2019).  It is also important to note that Illinois recently increased their nicotine purchase laws from 18 to 21 (IDPH, 2019).  St. Louis County also has a 21 minimal purchase age for nicotine; however, many businesses are unaware of this restriction.  According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) (2019), Illinois is also the first state to have someone die from a vaping related disease.  With Illinois and Missouri bordering each other and having similar laws involving the minimal purchase age, it is easy to assume that Missouri will suffer from these same issues.  Missouri is also in the process of legalizing medical marijuana while its neighboring state, Illinois, is legalizing recreational marijuana.  The CDC (2018) also states that marijuana is the most “widely used illicit drug in the United States.”  Since it is the most widely used illicit drug, how will the usage increase with Missouri legalizing it medically and the increased access from Illinois’s recreational legalization?  Through the positive peer influence among this Youth Empowerment Coalition, we can have that steady change through their impact on their peers.  Their constant reminder and positive influential actions could positively affect another peer within their district.

Opportunities in the Youth Empowerment Coalition…

There will also be many opportunities within this coalition.  These opportunities include: holding leadership positions, resume building, earning community service hours, networking, building relationships with those within the community and other schools, and creating change among their peers.  These opportunities will allow them to grow and understand the “behind the scenes” aspects of a non-profit organization.  It also allows them to take charge and reach out to community partners for fundraising opportunities.  Another opportunity they will have is getting involved with our victims to fully understand the importance of MADD and the Youth Empowerment Coalition.

 

For more information on the coalition, please contact Meagan Bowers at Meagan.Bowers@madd.org