RICHMOND – An anti-vaping effort aimed at educating teens and parents in Hanover County about the dangers of electronic cigarette use has been awarded a $500 grant from the Virginia Alcoholic Beverage Control Authority (ABC).
The Wheeler Award, given annually to a school or organization participating in Virginia ABC’s Youth Alcohol and Drug Abuse Prevention Project (YADAPP), rewards ingenuity and successful completion of plans developed by student teams from all over the state who participate in the year-long YADAPP program.
YADAPP is a peer leadership program that begins each summer when high schools and community groups send teams of four students, assisted by an adult sponsor, to a five-day kick-off conference.
Teams broaden their knowledge of substance use prevention and work together to create the strategic prevention plans, Strategies to Act Now (STAN) Plans, to be implemented during the following school year.
The Hanover County team, the Hanover Cares coalition dubbed Teens Care Too, advocated for local school policy changes to stem growing numbers of teens who vape.
The coalition will use the grant money to further its e-cigarette prevention efforts during this school year.
“The youth understand strategic planning, and they get excited to learn and see their projects come to fruition at YADAPP and to implement that project once they are back in the community,” said Octavia Marsh, Hanover Cares executive director. “It is always a pleasure to train these young leaders and integrate their STAN Plan into the coalition’s work throughout the year. That truly is what youth engagement is about, and I am so proud of this group.”
The Wheeler Award, established in 1986, honors Morris and Billie Wheeler for their dedication to Virginia’s youth.
The Wheelers’ daughter Sandy was killed by a drunk driver in 1981. For more than 30 years, the Wheelers supported the prevention efforts of Virginia ABC and other organizations to promote youth leadership and prevent drunk driving.
“As other recipients of the Wheeler Award before them, the Hanover County coalition provides inspirational leadership in the effort to promote healthy behaviors among Virginia’s youth,” said Virginia ABC Chief Executive Officer Travis Hill. “Peer-to-peer education and advocacy is extremely powerful for the students in our communities. By advocating for policy change, these students are helping to save lives. We value our community partners who work to secure a safe and drug-free environment for Virginia youth. We want all students to achieve personal success and continue to build stronger communities and peer networks.”