Youth Prevention Team Celebrates National Prevention Week

Haymarket Center’s Youth Prevention Program celebrated National Prevention Week with a series of events focused on engaging students in fun, free, and restorative activities. The Youth Prevention Team brought art supplies, board games, substance misuse education materials, and a joyful presence to schools across the south side of Chicago. The Youth Prevention Team was excited to bring supplies, many of which were provided by Haymarket Center’s donors through our Amazon Wishlist, to schools that may not otherwise be able to provide them. Check out this video to see what the students made.

Sometimes, the work of prevention is about fun and games. Haymarket Youth Prevention Specialists created an event for students to engage with school staff as well as Haymarket team members in a variety of games and activities at different stations. Many tables handed out raffle tickets to kids, which they could turn in for a prize at the end of the event. These programs were designed by Haymarket staff to engage students in Social Emotional Learning, helping youth build healthy resiliency, a crucial part of substance use disorder prevention. This connection between emotional regulation and substance use has attracted more attention recently, as Dr. Alexandra Donovan attested to in her study presented at The Endocrine Society’s annual meeting earlier this month. “Early life stress and early puberty have both been associated with early substance use” said Dr. Donovan, with some estimates suggesting that early life stress can increase an adolescent’s likelihood of earlier substance use by 20%. For more on this research, you can read the Endocrine Society’s post here.

With these events, Haymarket’s Youth Prevention team helps young people pair education on substance use disorders with healthy alternatives to reduce stress or cope with environmental factors outside of their control. In each of the nine schools Haymarket’s Youth Prevention Team works in, they are the only staff dedicated to substance use disorder prevention. With limited budgets, many of those schools are also unable to provide social workers to their students. Being able to provide a therapeutic environment and consistent positive presence will have lasting impact on the youth Haymarket engages with.

“This whole year has felt like such a success” said Spencer Jones, Supervisor over the Youth Prevention Program. “Red Ribbon Week, National Prevention Week, and just the general support from Haymarket Center” have been the highlights of the year for Spencer, who says thank you to all the donors who have helped support the program’s growth this year.

Leave a Reply