Giving youths a voice in prevention decisions

(Posted Aug. 18, 2020)

Kristy Zurbrick, Madison Editor

“We’re trying to empower youth so they have a voice at the table when we are making decisions about young people.”

That’s how Amanda Hampton, prevention services manager for Madison County Prevention, sums up the county’s new Prevention Youth Ambassadors program.

Through the program, high schoolers will participate in meetings of various organizations that serve the county, such as Family Council, the WeCARE Prevention Committee, and the Madison County Business Advisory Committee. Alongside the adults who are members of these groups, the youths will provide their own thoughts, opinions, ideas, and observances.

They will receive training related to skill development, leadership and youth-led prevention.

“They also will be planning community initiatives to create happy, healthy, safe communities,” Hampton said.

Students in grades 9-12 are eligible to apply to become ambassadors. Through the application and interview process, Madison County Prevention will choose two students per school to serve as ambassadors. The program is open to students at Jonathan Alder, London, Madison-Plains and West Jefferson high schools and Tolles Career & Technical Center.

Selection as an ambassador comes with a one-year term. To get started, the group will choose officers and determine who will attend which county-wide organization meetings. They will meet on their own, as well, twice a month.

As a reward for being selected, each ambassador will have their choice of a $500 college scholarship, paid registration for Youth to Youth International (a leadership camp), or paid expenses for driver’s education.

Funding for Madison County Prevention programs, including the Prevention Youth Ambassadors Program, comes from the Mental Health and Recovery Board of Clark, Greene and Madison Counties.

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