The Tri-County Community Partnership Inc. (TCCP), a drug-free community coalition, has established a youth-led student branch called the Tri-County Youth Partnership.
TCCP has always wanted to involve children in some way. On Oct. 31, 2019, they were awarded the Drug-Free Communities grant from the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, which mandates that their prevention efforts focus on 12 to 18-year-olds. After receiving this grant, the youth-led student branch was created. This five-year grant is for $625,000, which equates to $125,000 per year. After the initial five years, TCCP can renew the grant for another five years.
The youth partnership’s objective is to make youth voices heard by advocating for a happy, healthy, drug-free community. They hope to educate and inspire their peers to live substance-free lives. Changing the way substance use is addressed in the Pine Bush Central School District as well as its communities is another priority of the youth-led student branch.
In order to promote a substance-free community, the Tri-County Youth Partnership will plan workshops, activities and events within the community to make an impact on their peers.
“The messaging coming from a teenager to another teenager will resonate more,” said Alayne Eisloeffel, project coordinator for TCCP.
The first activity the youth partnership organized is the “What’s Your Anti-Drug?” contest. Pine Bush Central School District students in grades six through 12 can submit a photograph of something in their lives that encourages them to stay drug free and remain happy. Along with the photograph, students will submit a caption explaining why it is their anti-drug as well as their name and school.
This contest is being judged by the four core members of the youth partnership: Pine Bush High School senior Macen De Lesio and juniors Hailey Terwilliger, Gabriella Toro and Zaria Theodore. They will judge contest submissions based on their overall meaning of why something is a person’s anti-drug, as opposed to judging based solely on the photo.
Each of the youth partnership’s four core members joined the group because they want to help their community.
“I always wanted to do more things for the community to help students and other people,” Theodore said. “As soon as I read that [an email] I thought this is a perfect opportunity for me to do that.”
This contest began on June 15 and will run through July 15. Pine Bush Central School District students in grades six through 12 who are interested in entering the contest should submit a photograph with a caption of their anti-drug to firstname.lastname@example.org. Students should include their name, grade and school along with their submission. The first place winner will receive $100 while the second and third place winners will earn $50 and $25 respectively.
The youth partnership plans on unveiling a number of public service announcements in the near future. There will also be a membership drive to get more children involved.
“I’ve spoken to several of the advisors and these kids are steller,” Eisloeffel said of the children in the youth-led student branch. “And we know that there are others like them and we want them to become involved with the partnership.”