Youth engagement is essential to successful community change efforts. Youth participation and training is crucial to their advancement as our communities’ next wave of advocates, activists and policy makers. IPS facilitates extensive age-appropriate, culturally sensitive training on the ACT model, along with trainings on policy-making, working with law enforcement, and acting as an effective spokesperson. Many students receive community service hours and letters of recommendation to colleges for their exceptional work as a member of the youth group.
IPS works with culturally diverse school and college youth on several projects. The most long-standing high school groups are the East County and South Bay San Diego projects that have engaged youth change makers since 2005, and the High Desert of Southern California Barstow SAFE coalition, active from 2015-2019.
These youth are powerful policy advocates and have successfully championed several campaigns focused on alcohol- and other drug-related community issues, including advocating for Social Host ordinances in several cities, fighting the alcohol industry’s push to bring alcohol into neighborhood movie theaters, conducting Retail Operating Standards assessments at liquor stores, and working with media to help promote the Drug Enforcement Administration’s Prescription Drug Take Back Day events.
The IPS San Diego Binge and Underage Drinking Initiative also coordinates the Young Advocates, a group of local university students seeking first-hand experience in public health, community work, policy advocacy, data collection and analysis. With guidance from the BUDI Youth Advocates coordinator, they can choose from a variety of activities, participate in staff meetings, represent the regional projects at community meetings and assist with most facets of IPS’s work to better prepare them for their own careers.