Students Taking On Prevention Youth Team is a program of the Churchill Community Coalition
Here’s what their nominator had to say about the STOP Team:
“Students Taking on Prevention (STOP) is comprised of high school and middle school students that promote and advocate for substance abuse prevention for all local youth. The high school STOP members visit K-8 classrooms and teach about the dangers of youth substance use and promote healthy alternatives. They also address topics like bullying and have most recently reached out into advocacy which has led them into the world of politics.
In 2016, members of STOP visited the Nevada Legislature to advocate and educate state representatives about prevention efforts and need for substance abuse prevention funding. This past February, five high school STOP students attended the Community Anti-Drug Coalitions of America (CADCA) Conference, in Washington, D.C. The students were able to further develop their leadership skills and network with other teens, from throughout the nation, who share their passions for local prevention. With the guidance of the Churchill Coalition staff and Chairman, the STOP youth presented their thoughts about the current climate in Churchill County to Nevada Congressmen and Senators. The students shared about local substance use and abuse prevention efforts, advocacy and policy changes, and efforts to reduce and prevent teen pregnancy. The impact of the conference set the stage for two of the STOP attendants to come home and impart their wisdom onto City Council members.
In June, the City Council of Fallon was considering the allowance of a recreational marijuana facility in the community. Andrea, her staff, and her board educated community members, stakeholders, and students about how this would likely negatively impact the community. The night of the city council hearing, local residents came forth to share their concerns and lack of support for this facility. Two of the STOP students, whom of which attended the CADCA conference, were brave enough to share their testimony and opposition. They used local data collected by the Churchill Coalition, along with their personal experiences, to explain to the City Council as to why the legalization of recreational marijuana sales in Fallon would be detrimental to the entire city, and more specifically, to the youth. In the deliberation of the voting, one City Council member stated that having youth input was one of the main factors in he changed his vote to the opposition of the legalization of recreational marijuana sales in the City of Fallon.
For the last two years, the STOP team has been working on Tobacco21, a legislative initiative that intends to increase the age of tobacco sales from 18 to 21 in order to limit youth access to all tobacco products and the presence of tobacco products within schools. Because of their presence and fervent efforts in trying to effect change, KOLO Channel 8 News interviewed the STOP members about their passion for fostering positive policy change.
The STOP team helps the Coalition create and produce ads from input and creative ideas they receive from their peers. They let other youth know that their opinions matter, their experiences are valid, and that they are the most important part in creating change in the community. Students have shared their stories of substance use for coping with mental illness, family crisis and their inability to handle all of life’s stress with STOP members. They have created withstanding bonds with other students and, in turn, continue to maintain a positive influence The most recent ad intends to change the perception amongst their peers that substance use is “cool”, so they have worked with staff to collect a series of video interviews asking students why their peers used alcohol and drugs. The students helped produce the commercials and ads that are currently being shared throughout the community in efforts to educate and change perceptual norms around substance use.
STOP students, like most other highly-involved students, have incredibly busy schedules and other clubs to attend to. Yet, the continue to volunteer and provide community service and advocacy for Churchill County. They even volunteer at the local soup kitchen and continue to stay involved when the school year ends. I have worked with many other youth groups and I have seen few others work so confidently and passionately with adults on very sensitive subjects. These students inspire me every day.”