WASHINGTON, D.C. — SADD (Students Against Destructive Decisions), the nation’s premiere school-based, peer-to-peer prevention, education and activism organization hosted its fourth annual youth advocacy institute, SADD SPEAKs (Students for Policy, Education, Advocacy and Knowledge) earlier this year.
The institute was held in Washington, D.C., and Alexis (Lexxy) Meadows, of Point Pleasant, was one of the 14 selected students. SADD’s partners at State Farm and The National Road Safety Foundation sponsored the SPEAKs program.
Also, Meadows was recently asked to speak at the SADD’s national symposium on Dec. 16, where she was to share her personal story about how she joined SADD in continuation of honoring her best friend, the late Andrea Bailes. Bailes was killed by a drunk driver.
Car crashes are the No. 1 killer of teens, and teen drivers are involved in fatal crashes at three times the rate of older drivers. In response to these tragic statistics, Congress passed a highway bill in 2012, Moving Ahead for Progress in the 21st Century or MAP-21, which for the first time ever includes “teen traffic safety” as a specific focus of highway safety dollars provided to each state.
“Teens across the nation are directly affected by the policies that our elected officials enact. Our voices are a necessary piece in the fight for traffic safety,” Meadows said. “It is our responsibility to speak up, at all levels of government, to ensure that the safety of our peers is a priority.”
As a participant in SADD SPEAKs, Meadows and 13 other youth leaders received online training in transportation policy, basic advocacy and media skills, and the legislative process, particularly as it affects teen traffic safety. This training served as preparation for a unique four-day trip to Washington, D.C. In D.C., these SADD ambassadors met with congressional staff focused on transportation policy, and planned and participated in a briefing on Capitol Hill for congressional staff, federal agencies, national partners, and other interested parties.
“Teen voices are critical in solving the issues that young people face on a daily basis, especially teen traffic safety. SADD SPEAKs equips students to advocate on behalf of themselves and their peers, a lifelong skill that will ensure that teen health and safety remains a national priority,” Dawn Teixeira, SADD national president and CEO, said. “If we want to bring about real change, teens must be part of the solution.”
Meadows and other teen advocates now plan to put their new skills into practice by working to influence state and federal policy at the local level. They will also lead SADD’s efforts to mobilize students across the country to become effective advocates for teen traffic safety programs by hosting a series of webinars, teaching SADD students from across the nation basic advocacy skills.
For 34 years, SADD, Inc., headquartered in Marlborough, Mass., has been committed to empowering young people take control of their lives, make healthy and safe life decisions and become positive peer influencers in their schools and communities. This is achieved by developing and equipping a nationwide chapter network with scientifically-supported programs and practices and by sharing youth voices and youth perspectives on issues, laws and policies that involve the education, culture, health, safety and treatment of youth.
Founded as Students Against Driving Drunk in 1981, SADD is the nation’s leading peer-to-peer youth health and safety organization, with thousands of chapters in middle schools, high schools, and colleges. To become a Friend of SADD or for more information, visit us online at sadd.org or parentteenmatters.org or follow SADD on Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, and Instagram.
This article provided by Students Against Destructive Decisions.