Harvey County Drug Free Youth was one of 148 community coalitions honored during a graduation ceremony at the Community Anti-Drug Coalitions of America’s 30th annual National Leadership Forum, just outside Washington, D.C., in February.

The coalitions received a graduation certificate for completing CADCA’s National Coalition Academy, a rigorous training program designed to increase the effectiveness of community substance use and misuse prevention leaders.

“The academy was such an amazing learning experience. We are so excited to bring this new knowledge back to Kansas and continue to make big impacts in Harvey,” said Benjamin Meier, D-FY coalition coordinator.

The coalition recently worked on implementing the Life of a Railer program at Newton High School. Life of a Railer involved engaging youths, parents, local business leaders, school administrators and prevention professionals in making a change to the athletics and activities code of conduct. The program raises up student leaders on teams and activities groups to hold one another to a higher standard to help them perform at their best, not only physically, but in every facet of their lives. D-FY also continues to work to educate youths, parents and community members on the dangers of adolescent drug and alcohol use, ways to open conversations about substance use with one another, and positive alternatives to substance use for youths.

CADCA’s National Coalition Academy (NCA) is a comprehensive yearlong training program developed by CADCA’s National Coalition Institute. The NCA incorporates three weeklong classroom sessions, a web-based distance learning component, an online workstation where participants network and share planning products, and free ongoing coalition development technical assistance. To graduate, coalitions must complete a rigorous curriculum. They must participate in all components of the NCA and complete five essential planning products that serve as the foundation of their comprehensive plan for community change.

CADCA’s National Leadership Forum is a four-day event with opportunities to learn the latest strategies to address substance use and misuse. Attendees have to opportunity to hear and learn from nationally prevention experts, federal administrators and concerned policymakers. The forum brings together about 3,000 attendees representing coalitions from all regions of the country and internationally, government leaders, youth, prevention specialists, addiction treatment professionals, addiction recovery advocates, researchers, educators, law enforcement professionals and faith-based leaders. It is the largest training event for the prevention field.