Youth to Youth (Y2Y) is an evidence-based, youth-driven, adult-guided program that has set the standard for youth development and prevention programming across this country and around the world. Y2Y brings young people together with a common bond of living free of alcohol, tobacco and other drugs and engages them through meaningful activities and experiences to develop and implement their own ideas to create positive change.
In 2016, PATH received a federal Drug Free Communities grant from the US Department of Health and Human Services that has enabled us to begin implementing the Youth to Youth program in Mitchell and Yancey County middle schools. Since launching the program in November 2017, we have established 4 active groups at the middle schools in Mitchell and Yancey counties. Youth members have an active role in shaping the groups — discussing and deciding as a group the projects that they want to work on. For example:
- The kids voted on a name to represent both counties and came up with “Appalachian Y2Y” to set themselves apart from other youth to youth organizations.
- Y2Y members at Bowman Middle School lead a school wide quiz for National Drug and Alcohol Facts Week based on information that was read over the intercom each day for a week. Participants who scored 100 percent won Blue Tooth Speakers!
- At Harris Middle School, the Appalachian Y2Y group has created a video on how to safely dispose of sharps.
- At East Yancey Middle School, the youth have written an article that will be featured on the “Health Page” of the local newspaper. They decided to address the parents to let them know how important it is to speak to their kids about drugs and alcohol.
- The Y2Y group at Cane River Middle School have shown extraordinarily theatrical skills by practicing “Samantha Skunk,” a skit they plan to perform at the elementary schools in Yancey County. Providing important and possibly life-saving information to children and their community is a high priority of Y2Y because many of its members have younger siblings.
Ultimately, Appalachian Y2Y graduates will possess the skills and experiences that will allow them to serve as role models to their peers and younger students. The Youth to Youth Program is a great opportunity for local students to gain leadership skills that will serve them throughout their school career and later in life. Youth to Youth empowers kids to make positive change in their communities!