Preventing substance use problems starts young, by empowering youth to reach their greatest potential by refusing to abuse drugs and alcohol. This isn’t merely asking youth to “just say no” to drugs. This is providing youth with facts about substance use and positive options so that they can decide for themselves to not use drugs, nicotine, and alcohol. We also work toward creating environments in which it’s difficult for minors to access substances and shape social norms that support the choice to live drug-free.
MCSAP provides youth with the opportunities and platforms to speak to their peers on their own terms. The coalition and our partners regularly organize youth summits devoted to increasing awareness of the harm of substance use on young people’s academic, emotional, and physical development; linking them to trusted adults who walk the walk with them; providing resources for extra assistance; and supporting their decision to explore positive activities that will ultimately help them achieve their dreams.
MCSAP and partners participate in annual Youth Summits organized by Neu-Life Community Development in which teens spend a day learning positive coping and life skills, becoming inspired by their peers and community leaders, educating each other on substance use facts, and trying out new activities.
The “Let’s Be Blunt” campaigns grew out of these annual youth summits. Summit participants created artwork and messaging encouraging their peers to not smoke weed and to live weed-free lives. The campaigns were featured on Milwaukee County Transit System buses and in the news and were seen by millions.
MCSAP and partners also participate in the LGBTQ+ Youth Substance Use Prevention Summits, spearheaded by the City of Milwaukee Tobacco-Free Alliance and Safe & Sound. These one-of-a-kind events allow LGBTQ+ youth to connect with their peers, learn about issues specific to their lives, access resources, and enjoy performances by local drag superstars and entertainers.