On January 30th, students from MHS and MES flew to Washington D.C. with Bearkatz Against Drugs Sponsor Ms. Kristy Sanders and Region 3 Rise Above Alcohol and Drugs Coordinator Stacy Taylor to attend the 32nd Annual CADCA National Forum.  Community Anti-Drug Coalitions of America , or CADCA, is an international organization that is committed to drug and alcohol prevention.  Their website stresses the involvement needed from local communities to target the ongoing drug, alcohol, and tobacco program.

“Since 1992, CADCA has demonstrated that when all sectors of a community come together, social change happens. CADCA represents over 5,000 community coalitions that involve individuals from key sectors including schools, law enforcement, youth, parents, healthcare, media and others. We have members in every U.S. state and territory and more than 30 countries around the world. The CADCA coalition model emphasizes the power of community coalitions to prevent substance misuse through collaborative community efforts. We believe that prevention of substance use and misuse before it starts is the most effective and cost-efficient way to reduce substance use and its associated costs.  In addition to supporting our member coalitions by providing resources and materials designed to help our coalitions be effective and sustainable, CADCA also offers customized trainings for coalitions across the world. Through our International Programs, Youth Leadership and Training teams, we are able to reach and empower thousands of change advocates per year. CADCA also offers signature events each year, including the National Leadership Forum, Mid-Year Training Institute and Drug-Free Kids Campaign Awards Dinner, which help our members network, share ideas and learn from some of the most influential substance misuse professionals in the world.”

Students attended sessions throughout the week that focused on community involvements and forming a community coalition, mental health, tobacco prevention, and how to have those tough peer to peer discussions.  Senior Payton Webb said, “ I learned a lot of good things about drug prevention that I can take home and share with my community.  I was able to see many amazing things that our great capital has to offer.  The entire Washington D.C. trip was an amazing experience.” 

Not only did students participate in the forum, but they also had the opportunity to meet with Congressional representatives from Arkansas.  Students were able to talk to Senator Tom Cotton’s office staff via Zoom to discuss the prevention approach that Arkansas has taken as well as discuss where the federal grant funds are being used.  Ethan Seay communicated what Bearkatz Against Drugs has done over the past two years to aid in community prevention as well as discuss what events are upcoming.

The trip was not all business, however.  Students were able to visit many of Washington’s monuments and museums. Students visited The Smithsonian Natural History Museum, The United States Holocaust Memorial Muesem, the United State Capitol Building and Russell Senate Building, The White House, as well as the Washington Monument, The Lincoln Memorial, The Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial, The United States Marine Corp Memorial, and The Korean War Memorial.  “This trip was a very educational experience.  I learned a lot and had a great time touring the monuments and memorials. We all had a great time!” said Freshman Brooklyn Seay. 

“The Bearkatz Against Drugs leadership group that attended CADCA this year represented Arkansas very well! Throughout the week, I had several CADCA and Arkansas leaders tell me that they were very impressed with our students and that they look forward to seeing all of the great things the BAD club will be doing for prevention in Arkansas. I am very grateful for Kristy Sanders, Melbourne High School Administration and the students’ parents, who gave tremendous support to the students so they could travel to Washington D.C. and make connections with our Arkansas state leaders and learn the importance of substance abuse prevention in Arkansas.” Stacy Taylor (RAAD)