Leaders of today

Washougal teens share their ideas on prevention at Seattle conference

Washougal High School students Michael Stevens, Carson Connors and Bridgette McCarthy recently had the opportunity to share their ideas on substance abuse prevention on a national stage.

The three were chosen to make presentations at the National Prevention Network Conference in Seattle regarding their findings on how to reduce underage drinking in Washougal.

More than 1,600 prevention specialists were in attendance.

“Everyone there was very supportive and helped us realize the problems in our community and how to solve them using available resources,” Connors, 17, said.

The students were sponsored by UNITE! Washougal Community Coalition and Washington State Department of Behavioral Health and Recovery to attend the leadership initiative training held as part of this national conference.

More than 200 youth from across the country participated.

“I was really energized by this opportunity to make a difference in my community,” Connors said.

The students were led by Ann Stevens, and accompanied by UNITE! coalition members Courtney Wilkinson, Paul Greenlee and Deb Connors.

They attended more than 20 hours of trainings focused on community organization, and substance abuse reduction, with a focus on healthy communities.

The training equips youth and their adult advisors with knowledge and skills needed to make significant community-level change, according to the National Youth Leadership Initiative.

In 2014, CADCA’s National Youth Leadership Initiative trained more than 1,700 teens and adult advisors from across the country and globe.

“It was a really good conference,” Stevens, 16, said. “We got to get the word out about what the problems were like in our community.”

McCarthy called the experience, “amazing.”

“I didn’t realize how many people were there,” she said. “The whole thing was very empowering and the adults were surprised by our knowledge level. Everyone was very supportive and interested in what we had to say.”

For more information about UNITE! Washogual Community Coalition, visit www.unitewashougal.org.