The Upriver Youth Leadership Council (UYLC) is a community coalition with strong community leadership and prevention history in its membership base. UYLC’s mission is to empower youth and adults to build a heathier community through prevention leadership. Our partners include healthcare, law enforcement, school, media, churches, government entities, the Nez Perce Tribe, youth serving organizations, business owners, civic organizations, youth, and parents.
The three primary goals of the UYLC are to:
1. Foster leadership and resilience skills in our community youth.
2. Prevent the initiation of youth substance use.
3. Strategically build a collaborative, sustainable community-wide prevention infrastructure.
UYLC’s youth driven; adult guided mantra allowed for the development of the Youth Advisory Board (YAB). YAB members are 7-12th grade students living in the Kamiah School District. They are closely mentored by UYLC adult board members to be the future prevention leaders in Kamiah. They meet twice a month to plan healthy activities for their peers. UYLC engages youth in the process by guiding them to develop and practice leadership skills such as prevention planning, public speaking, networking, organization and time management during monthly meetings and at community events. These skills translate to supporting UYLC’s work and also provides teens with skills and knowledge. YAB members also share their thoughts, input and opinions about issues they face to influence the organization’s programming and projects. By doing so, they are able to see the impact of their work. Such peer-to-peer drug prevention work creates a strong community impact. Most recently, YAB was able to garner enough community support to fundraise enough money to open a long-needed Teen Center. The Teen Center will provide much-needed alternative activities as well as behavioral health services, resiliency skills and Life 101 classes.
Through UYLC and YAB efforts community norms are shifting and youth substance use is receding. These efforts encompass a comprehensive strategic plan focusing on local solutions to local issues. UYLC implements a robust positive social norming campaign that prominently features our YAB youth; provides the Upriver Safe Homes Initiative to reduce social access to drugs and alcohol in the home; provides parenting classes; provides support to increase behavioral health and recovery services in the community; hosts quarterly Lunch and Learns on trending local issues; works with Law Enforcement to increase consequences of juvenile delinquency; works with the school district to provide support to enhance skills related to substance use issues and increase resiliency skills in our youth; provides weekly alternative activities; works with the local pharmacy, healthcare facilities, and law enforcement to reduce access to illicit drugs and prescription drugs; and most importantly works to bring together the community to provide a collaborative approach to combatting substance use issues.
Submitted by Sharlene Johnson, Executive Director
Upriver Youth Leadership Council serves: Kamiah, Idaho; Lewis and Idaho Counties; Located on the Nez Perce Tribe Reservation; and Idaho Region 2.
To support or learn more go to www.UpRiverYouth.org.
To find an Idaho coalition near you go to www.CommunityCoalitionsofIdaho.org