Originally formed in 2006 as the Shenendehowa Community Coalition, the Southern Saratoga County Youth Empowerment Partnership (SSCYEp) works together to build a community environment that promotes healthy development and growth for youth, is made up of representatives from several school districts, agencies and organizations that serve youth in Southern Saratoga.
SSCYEp overall mission is to promote healthy adolescence by reducing and preventing underage drinking and substance use, along with other harmful or dangerous activities. Topics of interest include, but are not limited to: prescription pain reliever and heroin abuse, distracted driving, and bullying.
About the Southern Saratoga County Youth Empowerment Partnership:
Groups of people working together to solve a problem or improving our way of life are far more effective than an individual alone. Coalitions can create a sense of community that is empowering and gives a voice to all who hold a stake in the community, regardless of their affiliation.
SSCYEp work to improve local and regional efforts by:
- Fostering autonomy to authentically address the local concerns while having a synergistic effect of shared focus, shared media, and shared support
- Rely on a community approach – utilizing resources that already exist in our local communities
- Taking advantage of regional media outlets and social networking
- Providing support, ideas, tested, evidence-based strategies to address local needs
- Enhancing opportunities for grant funding
Teens in grades 9 through 12 were surveyed to assess the prevention needs of the community. Based on the results of that survey, the Prevention Council of Saratoga County dedicated funds from the Prevention First-NY! Strategic Prevention Framework State Incentive Grant to launch the FaceTheFacts campaign. A key strategy of the campaign includes reducing teens’ access to alcohol. Social media-based messaging is used to encourage parents of teens to have critical conversations with their child about alcohol, drug use and risky behaviors. Research shows that teens who believe their parents disapprove of risky behaviors are less likely to choose those behaviors.
“Shen Strength in Numbers,” in conjunction with the Shenendehowa School District is a campaign that promotes the fact that the majority of teenagers do not drink alcohol, which goes against the common perception that most do.
Throughout this campaign, a variety of posters are displayed in the high school buildings. These posters display a variety of statistics from the Prevention Needs Assessment that students took bi-annually. The results of that survey demonstrated that the majority of high school students are in fact making healthy and safe choices by resisting alcohol and other substance use.
By changing the misperception among teenagers that all of their peers drink, fewer teens will then participate in underage drinking. According to Dr. Wesley Perkins, Professor of Sociology at Hobart and William Smith Colleges, social norms are fundamental to human behavior. There is a strong tendency for humans to conform to what their peers are doing, and misperceptions can easily be translated into fact when a group of people erroneously believe a risky behavior to be the norm. Studies conducted on college campuses with social norms campaigns showed significant decreases in alcohol use among the student population as they began to accurately understand that the majority of their peers were not drinking.
To learn more and join the the Southern Saratoga County Youth Empowerment Partnership please contact Jennifer Wood at (518) 581-1230 ext.3610.