Faces 4 Change hosting Youth Leadership Summit on substance abuse prevention

A Harrisonburg non-profit is hosting an event to stop teen drug abuse in the area.
Published: Jun. 8, 2023 at 4:15 PM EDT
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HARRISONBURG, Va. (WHSV) - Faces 4 Change Harrisonburg is set to host its second annual Youth Leadership Summit at the Lucy Simms Continuing Education Center on Saturday.

Faces 4 Change is a CDC funded project of the Youth Popular Culture Institute, its goal is to establish community collaborations and partnerships to prevent and reduce substance abuse among youth in the Harrisonburg community.

“We are working diligently to provide resources for young people and their families to create an understanding and awareness of the risks associated with drug use. To provide opportunities for them to successfully engage in community conversations and to create an opportunity so we can hear what they are saying in terms of what they in fact need,” said Dr. P. Thandi Hicks Harper, President of the Youth Popular Culture Institute and the Project Director of Faces 4 Change.

During the summit on Saturday, Harrisonburg youth will have the chance to participate in engaging talks and education through a number of multimedia resources and activities.

“We have an opportunity for young people to engage technologically speaking, they’ll be provided an opportunity to create prevention posters,” said Dr. Hicks Harper. “They will break down the lyrics of two Grammy winning artists, we emphasize the use of popular culture when it comes to substance use prevention.”

Youth at the event will explore substance prevention, alternatives to drug use, and coping skills.

“We’re excited because it provides an opportunity to encourage young people to choose healthy lifestyles. To provide them with a safe space where they can engage with each other as well as engage with other adults, that’s really important,” said Hicks Harper. “We want to inspire them and encourage them as the next up and coming leaders of this great city.”

Hicks Harper said that substance abuse and drug overdoses among youth are an epidemic in Harrisonburg and around the country.

“We’ve had some young people in Harrisonburg High School fatally overdose from drug use, fentanyl use and so forth, pill parties and stimulants are a part of the norm unfortunately. It’s an epidemic,” she said. “We’re having Narcan trainings with the help of the Harrisonburg-Rockingham Community Services Board who is one of our partners.”

The event will run from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. on Saturday and will include the opportunity for youth to win prizes. It’s being held in partnership with Molina Health Care, the Harrisonburg-Rockingham Community Services Board, Boys & Girls Club, Futuro Latino, Parks & Rec, James Madison University, and others.

“Various community leaders, activists, parents, young people, various sector members have come together to really make this happen. We just want to thank all of those in the community that are continuing to be a face for change,” said Hicks Harper.

Youth can register for the event here.