Youth to Youth was founded in 1982 in Columbus, Ohio, as a community-based drug prevention and youth leadership program focusing primarily on middle school and high school students. The goal of its many projects is harnessing the powerful influence of peer pressure– making it a positive force that encourages young people to live free of tobacco, alcohol and other drugs.
From its inception Youth to Youth recognized that nationally and internationally, actions needed to be taken to change attitudes and behaviors surrounding drugs and their usage in this generation, or the resulting conditions in our communities could only get worse. Youth to Youth had a plan for success with teens as the nucleus. Due to the continuing achievement Youth to Youth is having in the areas of youth involvement and drug prevention at a local level, hundreds of communities in the United States and abroad have chosen the program model to help facilitate favorable change.
The emphasis in Youth to Youth’s model makes it an international leader in the field because:
- Youth to Youth’s message is a clear cut “NO” to tobacco, alcohol, or any other drug at any time. Maturing teens need definitive guidelines.
- Youth to Youth is uniquely teen centered. While the importance and necessity of parents, teachers, and other concerned adults are acknowledged, Youth to Youth does not underestimate the overwhelming peer resource that is available. The teens that participate in Youth to Youth play significant roles in the decision making process, so they feel responsible for the program’s success.
- Youth to Youth focuses its programs on issues that teens are most likely to face while growing up today: alcohol and other drugs, negative peer pressure, dating violence, suicide, bullying, self-concept, community responsibility, etc.
- Youth to Youth stresses the development of leadership skills: teens comprise the Youth Advisory Board, are trained in public speaking, teach other teens and adults at conferences, trainings, and workshops, develop and execute strategic community action plans, and plan and help coordinate all special events.
- Youth to Youth programs involve teenagers from various socio-economic conditions, preparing youth for real-life relationships which include individuals of diverse backgrounds.
- Youth to Youth emphasizes the development of necessary life skills: youth attend trainings and workshops that establish or enhance communication skills, decision-making skills, problem solving skills, etc., so they will be better equipped to handle any situation.
- Youth to Youth goes beyond merely presenting information on the dangers of alcohol and other drug use. Capitalizing on the emotional involvement that comes from working in small groups, the program encourages personal growth, presents techniques that teens use to change their own environments, and provides alternatives to drug use.