Students learn responsible decision-making skills

In no previous generation has Vermont's youth faced an onslaught of life-threatening substances and behavior. Whether it's alcohol, drugs or risky behaviors, today's teens face an uphill battle against negative influences thanks to a pop culture that is unaccountable to anyone.

Thanks to SADD (Students Against Destructive Decisions), young people are being exposed to new approaches to saying "no".

SADD is the largest youth leadership program in the United States that helps teens make responsible decisions about drugs and alcohol, traffic safety, internet safety, suicide prevention and other issues that effect teens, according to John D'Esposito, Vermont State SADD advisor.

Four Rutland County high school students recently went to the statewide SADD YAC (Youth Advisory Committee) training held at the Inn at Essex in Essex.

Each SADD Chapter in Vermont designates one teen leader to be a liaison and representative to the statewide group and to receive advanced training at weekend retreats. Mill River Union High School sent two representatives to the conference as they just started a chapter at their school after a number of years, D'Esposito said.

"The four liaisons, who are members of the Youth Advisory Committee, are Ashlynne Stone and Elizabeth Merrill from Mill River Union High School, Alexis Palmer of Black River Union High School, a Mount Holly resident, and Cierra Phelps of Stafford Technical Center. While they were at the training, the Youth Advisory Committee Members received in depth training in making effective public presentations, the pending legislative issues, the trend of sending cell phone photos to other teens that are sexually suggestive (sexting), and healthy relationships," according to D'Esposito.

"The Rutland County SADD Chapters have been working together on a variety of projects and shared the advantages of cooperation among chapters at the meeting. These dedicated SADD members and the rest of the members of their SADD chapters work hard to make their communities and the lives of their peers better," said D'Esposito.

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