Empowering Youth and Preventing Substance Abuse

Posted on | By Kirsten Johnshoy
Mentor Foundation USA

This month’s ePromos for Good organization is Mentor Foundation USA.

Driven by a passion for empowering youth to live drug-free, Queen Silvia of Sweden created Mentor International in 1994 in collaboration with the World Health Organization. As of today, her vision has spread to over 80 countries, and her mission has enabled millions of young people around the world to make better choices when it comes to their own health and well being.

The Mentor Foundation USA is a not-for-profit organization that empowers young people to influence their peers in communities affected by the opioid crisis. With guidance, students are given a platform to inspire other youth in their communities through Living the Example, which is a peer-to-peer substance abuse prevention program.

Student-to-student outreach has proven extremely effective in the Mentor Foundation USA’s efforts to inspire change in these affected communities.

“Our program and these incredible students have been proven to have a significant impact,” says Alexandra Mottern, Program Manager at Mentor Foundation USA. “Evaluators have found that their peers are more than six times less likely to engage in substance use after being exposed to the programming and the youth ambassadors’ messaging!”

The voice of change speaks louder when it comes from someone to whom these students can easily relate. Now more than ever, young leaders are needed in our community to stand as an example that no matter how old you are or where you come from, you have the power to steer your life in a healthy direction.

“Our group of approximately 120 youth ambassadors reaches nearly 8,000 public school students per year,” Alexandra Mottern adds. “They’re working hard to spread youth-generated messages about prevention and healthy living to their peers and throughout their community through far-reaching social media campaigns, school-wide events and campaigns, stipend-supported community change projects, and more.”

Despite the importance of substance prevention programs, grants and general funding are much harder to come by compared to treatment programs. This means Mentor Foundation USA is operating with less support than other programs. Even so, they’re able to make a major impact around the globe along with the rest of Mentor International, and they won’t let lack of funding undermine their work.

“One of our biggest funders exited the prevention arena this year, leaving us with a greatly reduced budget to operate this critical program,” Alexandra Mottern notes. She says that Mentor Foundation USA is figuring out how to allocate the budget to support student programming and change projects.

With the help of ePromos for Good, Mentor Foundation USA can get some of the support they need to further impact their communities. In order to maintain the strength and presence of their outreach programs, they plan to use the award to purchase their signature Living the Example youth ambassador t-shirts.

“These t-shirts will be worn by our amazing youth ambassadors as they do prevention and awareness work in schools and the community,” Alexandra says. “The t-shirts help the youth ambassadors become identifiable as a resource to their community as program leaders.”

Organizations are chosen based on their commitment to doing good –good we’ve seen in each of our winners, including the Save a Child’s Heart and the National Youth Internet Safety and Cyberbullying Task Force.

 

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