A priority of the Community Alliance for Teen Safety (CATS) has been to provide opportunities for youth to develop their advocacy and leadership skills and to help them be powerful change agents around important issues affecting the health and safety of their community. Concerned local high school students were Founding Members of our non-profit and were motivated to action after losing peers and friends in car crashes. Their voices brought stakeholders and citizens together and built a foundation for solving problems and identifying measurable change at the community level. A few examples of CATS supported youth activities:
- Middle school youth created an after-school club called ProFuture focused on encouraging safe choices.
- Elementary school youth created pedestrian safety posters to raise awareness about walking safely and participated in poster contests for Red Ribbon week – the posters (over 1000) continue to be displayed to reinforce the message to be Drug Free.
- High school youth developed a pedestrian safety project to raise awareness of an unsafe route to and from school and to advocate for safe walking behaviors– they presented their project to law enforcement and safety leaders at a state-wide conference.
- High school and middle school youth participated in summer media camps and internships to develop driving safety PSAs and other media, supported CATS’ many walk-a-thons to raise awareness about safety topics, coordinated safe prom activities including mock crashes, advocated before state law makers on driving safety and seat belt legislation, held town forums on underage drinking, promoted the National Prescription Drug Take Back events, hosted round table productions at our local cable access TV studio, attended national conferences such as CADCA and spoke with their Congressional Leaders on Capitol Hill, helped develop the Safe Homes program, developed the CATS’ Teen Life Coalition to raise awareness about youth suicide and helped create a Community Crisis Response Team with protocols to support youth impacted by a sudden loss, and many other inspiring projects.
Youth voices make a difference!