West Baton Rouge Healthy Community Coalition youth received the opportunity to speak with Vice President Mike Pence about the importance of continuing the Drug Free Communities Program and the High Intensity Drug Trafficking Areas program.
“Our youth are extremely passionate, caring and loving individuals who truly want to make healthy drug and tobacco free changes in their community,” said Toddie Milstead, Drug-Free Communities Project Coordinator at the coalition. “They work very hard along with our coalition members to use their voice and ask for these changes to be made using the data we have collected.”
The coalition, based in Louisiana, has implemented three Alcohol and Tobacco Family Friendly Zones at July 4th Fest in Port Allen and participated in their first Mardi Gras Parade in 2017. The coalition receives support from many sectors, including West Baton Rouge Parish President Riley Berthelot, Parish Council, Parks and Recreation, Port Allen City Mayor Richard Lee, Law Enforcement Chief Estron Brown, Sheriff Mike Caze, School Board Superintendent Wes Watts, parents and event coordinators. In addition, the coalition has the support of Congressman Garett Graves, who attended and spoke at a town hall hosted by the coalition. Thanks to the connection with Congressman Graves, the West Baton Rouge Healthy Community Coalition had the opportunity to speak with Vice President Pence.
The youth stated to Vice President Pence that without the ONDCP, CADCA and SAMHSA, they would not have had an opportunity to educate about alcohol and tobacco and bring awareness and implement the changes that are now in place in their communities.
“Our advice to all coalitions is to allow youth to be the ones to speak up in your communities because your leaders care about youth, as youth are our future investment,” Milstead advises to fellow coalitions.