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Newcomb chosen as peer leader

Cheyanne Newcomb credits her participation in the Youth Alcohol and Drug Abuse Prevention Project (YADAPP) with giving her inspiration to help others. “The program has made me realize that even though I am a single person, I can make a difference,” said Newcomb, 16, a student at Randolph Henry High School in Charlotte County.

Cheyanne Newcomb

Newcomb will join about 50 other youth from around Virginia to serve as peer leaders for YADAPP, a yearlong program coordinated by the Virginia Alcoholic Beverage Control Authority (ABC). The program begins with a weeklong conference to develop plans to combat underage substance use across the Commonwealth. The conference is set to take place July 16-20 at Longwood University in Farmville.

For more than three decades, enthusiastic teams of Virginia high school students have convened for a week in the summer to brainstorm ways to inspire their peers to keep their schools and communities alcohol-free and kickoff a yearlong partnership for substance use prevention.

“Preventing substance use is more effective when we use peer-to-peer strategies” said Virginia ABC Education and Prevention Manager Katie Weaks. “It is exciting to see students involved in the YADAPP program grow and develop to have increased knowledge of substance use prevention, increased confidence among their peers, and increased commitment to staying substance free.”

Each year peer leaders guide and coach student participants through the YADAPP program, which requires that each team in attendance develop Strategies to Act Now (STAN) plans. The plans are created to prevent high school substance use within their own school and/or community.

YADAPP has given rise to many programs over the years to promote safer and healthier lifestyles. Some of those have included a mentorship program, a prevention club and partnering with a school’s athletic department on alcohol prevention efforts.

According to the 2015 Youth Risk Behavior Survey, 14.6 percent of the Virginia high school students surveyed reported drinking alcohol before age 13.

In addition to the YADAPP program, Virginia ABC offers many education and prevention initiatives to combat the misuse of alcohol, including a grant program that annually awards funds to community organizations for alcohol education and prevention programs across the state.