It has been approximately three months since I joined the Youth Drug and Alcohol Prevention Program at KYCC, the Koreatown Youth Community Center. Youth Drug Abuse Prevention Program (YDAPP) is a 10-month weekly leadership program where high school students engage the community and peers through drug abuse prevention. When I entered the YDAPP room on my first day, my inner doubts emerged incessantly, “What exactly can these small powerless kids do to prevent the use of drugs and alcohol, two of the most deeply ingrained cultures of high school students?” Honestly, I resolutely refused to believe that this group could ever make real, imposing differences. Not only did my first impressions of the members meet my expectations- one of bossy leaders who toured around the nation proclaiming the grand goal of “war against drugs and alcohol”, but also it looked like such a small number to bring impact to our huge community. However, over this short period of my internship, I have gained a better understanding of how youth advocacy and awareness education can lead to a small, yet paramount step towards building a safe, healthy community.
Drug and alcohol consumption have long been prevalent in the teen party culture and have been used widely as a coping mechanism. For the last 18 years, YDAPP has tackled tobacco and alcohol use by Koreatown youth.This year, YDAPP has taken on a new emerging issue that is already affecting Koreatown in a significant way–marijuana. Surprising statistics tell us that Marijuana use among teens has risen in the past three years, with roughly one in fifteen high school seniors today being a daily, or near-daily, marijuana user. Moreover, alcohol remains the most widely used substance and most problematic in teens. Sadly, many youths get themselves trapped in substance abuse addictions without knowing the serious long term consequences, instigated by peer pressure.
Reducing alcohol and other drug use commences with prevention. As youths deeply caring about our peers, the best we cando is to spread awareness through prevention education. The program holds various workshops, presentations, community service projects, public outreach, and engagements in outside resources related to alcohol and drug abuse. For instance, YDAPP hosted a fun talent show performance, “YDAPP’s Got Talent”, where members invite parents and friends for education on youth drug and alcohol use. My group performed “Love Scenario” by IKON, with altered lyrics dedicated to explaining the goal of our program; a popular K-Pop song, changed a little to introduce our ideas, was very effective at garnering the audience’s undivided attention. The show finale was the reality party skit: it was aimed to demonstrate to the parents what parties look like and the scenarios where their kids may be pressured to drink alcohol. Instead of holding banal seminars, YDAPP successfully created an entertaining yet meaningful platform to provide the parents with a glimpse into teenlife and to inspire other students to act in advocacy.
Likewise, KYCC’s Youth Drug Prevention Program is a perfect program for high school students willing to build leadership and advocacy skill sets in the field they are passionate about: preventing our friends from substance abuse. YDAPP additionally offers a variety of outside opportunities for topics related to youth tobacco prevention, summer nonprofit internships, youth summits, and art show participations. The mission of YDAPP is to train youth to raise awareness among Koreatown, Pico-Union, and Westlake youth about substance abuse and provide a safe, supportive environment where all community members can learn, thrive, and grow.
Hannah Yi said, “As the YDAPP Coordinator, I personally believe that it is important to give students opportunities to bring in their own passions and insights to address substance abuse and ultimately create healthier communities. Youth truly are the experts of their own population and always have innovative ideas. It’s been amazing seeing a group of students passionately working together to make a difference and I hope this program serves as a pipeline for future leaders.” Join YDAPP to become a youth alcohol and drug ambassador to help the community while growing as a leader fighting for a good cause! For more information, please contact Hanna at firstname.lastname@example.org or (213) 365-7400 Ext.5127.
Goeun Lee, Grade 11
Larchmont Charter School