Friday, February 10, 2012

What We Learned in Washington DC

By Faith Murphy and Emily Jester

Attending the CADCA Forum in Washington DC was a great experience for us. We learned so many useful things, meet a lot of great people, and had life changing experiences.

CADCA’s National Leadership Forum is a 4-day conference packed with multiple opportunities to learn the latest strategies to fight substance abuse and hear from nationally-known experts and policymakers. The Forum brings together more than 2,500 participants representing community anti-drug coalitions from all regions of the country, government leaders, youth, addiction treatment professionals, researchers, educators, law enforcement professionals and faith-based leaders.

We were taught how to analyze the problems in our community utilizing the strategic prevention framework. We then developed interventions to address the problem. We intend to share this information with our coalition and encourage them to implement some of the environmental strategies developed. We hope these ideas can be used to make a change in our community.

One day of the conference was dedicated to meeting with our elected officials on Capitol Hill. We had the opportunity to meet with Senator Harkin at a congressional breakfast. We shared personal stories about what prevention programs mean to us and their importance and impact in our community. We then attended a congressional reception honoring senator Grassley. He spoke highly of the Van Buren County SAFE Coalition and the success they have seen from the DFC program. In the afternoon we met with Congressman Loebsack. We encouraged him to support prevention efforts and were later notified he co-signed the STOP act reauthorization. Having the opportunity to meet these elected officials was a great experience and taught us about advocating for change.

Along with the NYLI and advocacy work we did we also met a lot of other teens passionate for safe communities from across the United States. We shared stories and examples that made us realize we aren’t alone in this fight. We will continue our prevention work with the support of new friends and the SAFE coalition.

The experience we had at CADCA is one we won't soon forget. We look forward to implementing these strategies into our community in the near future. Thank you to the Van Buren County Safe Coalition for all the work you put into sending us.

No comments: