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Area teens dedicated to creating positive lives

RUTLAND - Teen success stories are rarely reported in the news. Unfortunately, in many cases, bad news gets the spotlight. But now its time for a Rutland County wide teen-led program to receive public attention for its work in transforming the lives of young people - for the better. This teen-led program has a familiar name, SADD. And its call to action to teens is stronger and even more effective than you may know.

For example, take three Rutland County high school students - Emily Turgeon of Fair Haven Union High School, Nikita Howard of Black River Union High School, and Vicky Stone of Stafford Technical Center. These three young women are passionate about making a difference in their communities. So, in order to demonstrate that commitment, they attended a statewide SADD-Youth Advisory Committee training workshop held in South Burlington last month.

SADD, short for Students Against Destructive Decisions, is the largest youth leadership program in the United States. Originally founded as Students Against Drunk Driving, the organization has changed its name by expanding its mission to youth.

"Originally, the mission of a SADD chapter was to help young people say no to drinking and driving," said Stacey Hart, a SADD spokeswoman. "Today, the mission has expanded. Students have told us that positive peer pressure, role modeling and environmental strategies can prevent other destructive decisions and set a healthier, safer course for their lives. And that is why SADD has become a peer-to-peer education, prevention, and activism organization dedicated to preventing destructive decisions, particularly underage drinking, other drug use, risky and impaired driving, teen violence, and teen suicide."

Locally, SADD helps Rutland County teens make responsible decisions about drugs and alcohol, traffic safety, Internet safety, suicide prevention and other issues that effect them.

Each SADD Chapter in Vermont designates a teen leader to be a liaison and representative to the statewide group and to receive advanced training at weekend retreats.

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