Unified Prevention! (UP!) Coalition & The Empowering Youth Conference – Las Cruces, NM
In November 2011, the Unified Prevention! (UP!) Coalition for a Drug Free Doña Ana County and the Doña Ana County Teen Court teamed up with the “Above the Influence” Team to integrate the youth-focused campaign into the first annual Empowering Youth Conference in Las Cruces, NM. Jaylene McIntosh, coordinator of the UP! Coalition, was excited to “offer teens the opportunity to have a first-hand, personalized engagement with ATI” aside from their familiarity with the campaign on television and the Internet.
The Las Cruces Convention Center served as the venue for the conference, “Empowering Youth: Today’s Youth, Tomorrow’s Leaders,” which provided teens with fresh knowledge about the dangers of alcohol and illegal drugs. The conference also gave teens an opportunity to gain new life skills and hear about real experiences through a variety of interactive sessions and activities, including the ATI “Tag It” activity — an activity that allows participants to identify and reject negative influences in their daily lives. Six Las Cruces teens also participated in a panel discussion, moderated by Mrs. McIntosh, before the nearly 100 youth in attendance, in which the teens elaborated on how they use positive influences in their lives to not only drive their personal goals, but to guide their peers as well.
The collaborative effort brought together representatives from Doña Ana County, the High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area Program (HIDTA), and the Office of National Drug Control Policy (ONDCP) to interact with Las Cruces teens and challenge them to think critically about the influences in their lives and how they can rise about negative pressures like drug use.