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YMAD Youth Town Hall Meeting

Hosted by: Hillsborough County Anti Drug Alliance

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Please briefly describe your Communities Talk activity.

This year, our Communities Talk activity was a youth-led and adult-guided event held at East Bay High School in Hillsborough County, which is the high school with one of our largest youth groups, YMAD (Youth Making A Difference). The youth started out with a “Did You Know?” session. They highlighted important facts for youth, parents, and community members. The youth separated into three separate groups, addressing one of the issues they wanted to highlight: underage drinking, vaping, Delta-8 THC, and then opioids/counterfeit pills. Each group worked together to create its own PowerPoint presentation for each subject, utilizing information from the National Institute on Drug Abuse, Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, Drug Enforcement Administration, and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. After the presentations, the youth then took questions from a panel of community stakeholders regarding implementing prevention strategies and best practices for peer-to-peer prevention efforts.

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How does alcohol and other drug misuse affect your community?

The Florida Youth Substance Abuse Survey (FYSAS) is a valuable data set that provides information about the top four drugs among Hillsborough County youth. Alcohol has consistently remained the most-used drug among Hillsborough County students and Florida youth statewide. Based on FYSAS 2022 data 

  • Thirty-one percent of youth reported using alcohol at least once in their life .  
  • 10.6% past-30-day rates of alcohol use continued to decline and break down to 6.7% of middle school students and 13.6% of high school students.  
  • Binge drinking among middle schoolers has increased since 2016 (2.3% to 3.2%), and high school trends have dropped (10.0% to 9.4%). 
  • After alcohol, students reported vaping nicotine (18.8% lifetime and 10.3% past 30 days), vaping marijuana (13.6% lifetime and 8.1% past 30 days) and using marijuana (16% lifetime and 9.2% past 30 days).  

Youth indicate that they are using both tobacco and marijuana in the vaporizers. Although prescription drug misuse is not in the top three substances of use among Hillsborough County youth, it is of concern since we are still in the throes of an opioid epidemic. Youth wanted to raise awareness about fentanyl and counterfeit pills as, in most of the current overdose cases, both were involved. Youth also wanted parents, their peers, and community members to be aware of Delta-8 THC, which can be legally purchased in area gas stations and convenience stores and has sent many youths to the hospital. 

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Which prevention strategy(ies), as defined by SAMHSA’s Center for Substance Abuse Prevention, best fit your Communities Talk activity?

  • Information Dissemination Strategy - focuses on improving awareness and knowledge of the effects of AOD issues on communities and families through “one-way” communication with the audience such as speaking engagements, health fairs, and distribution of print materials.
  • Education Strategy – focuses on “two-way” communication between the facilitator and participants and aims to improve life/social skills such as decision making, refusal skills, and critical analysis.
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What goal(s) did you hope to accomplish with your Communities Talk activity?

  • Hold meetings or discussion groups on alcohol and/or other drug misuse prevention.
  • Create alcohol and/or other drug misuse prevention action groups (e.g., committees, task forces, and advisory boards).
  • Start a youth-led coalition on alcohol and/or other drug misuse prevention.
  • Build coalitions with other agencies or programs to reduce and prevent alcohol and/or other drug misuse.
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Did you accomplish your goal(s)?


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What challenge(s) did you face in planning your activity this year?

  • Needed additional resources to conduct activity
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How did you overcome these challenges?

Some of our community partners stepped up to provide materials needed, information needed, food and drink.

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What are your next steps?

  • Host follow-up meetings or activities
  • Create new action groups to tackle specific issues raised during our Communities Talk activity
  • Expand our coalition with new partnerships in the community
  • Create a public education campaign to raise awareness and/or change behaviors around underage drinking (i.e., create PSAs and other promotional materials)
  • The Youth Advisors and Youth would like to make this a signature annual event.
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If you’ve conducted Communities Talk activities in prior years, how has your repeated participation contributed to progress in achieving your prevention goals?

The Communities Talk allows us to connect with community members, parents, and pull in new partners to work in prevention of alcohol and other drug use in our schools, neighborhoods, and county.

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Organizations that conduct Communities Talk activities often involve other organizations in the planning and execution of events. Please indicate which type(s) of organizations you involved in your activity planning.

  • Faith-based based organizations
  • Law enforcement
  • Youth-led organizations
  • Secondary schools
  • Charitable organizations
  • Local businesses
  • National Guard Drug Demand Reduction Program
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Which of the following best describes the primary audience(s) for your Communities Talk activity?

  • Parents
  • Teachers or other education staff
  • Legislators or policymakers
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How did you reach and engage your primary audience(s) to encourage them to participate in your activity?

The youth created flyers that were distributed widely through the school and sent to parents and local businesses. They also advertised on social media channels. 

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Which Communities Talk resources (or other SAMHSA resources) were most helpful for your activity?

  • SAMHSA’s Event Planner
  • Tips & Tools for Hosting a Virtual Event
  • Customizable Resources for Communities Talk Promotion and Implementation
  • Communities Talk website
  • Communities Talk planning guides
  • Communities Talk toolkits
  • Communities Talk social media content (e.g., Facebook, Twitter)

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