For the second consecutive summer, CareSource partnered with CompDrug’s Youth to Youth program, to sponsor one of the most unique youth leadership conferences in the state of Ohio. The comprehensive, youth-led prevention program focuses on empowering young people to create positive, community change. This year’s conference took place June 18-21, 2023 at Ohio Dominican University in Columbus, Ohio with 230 youths attending.
Youth to Youth International (Y2Y) is a program of CompDrug, one of the largest nonprofit Opioid Treatment Programs in Ohio. CompDrug is a behavioral health provider, offering a continuum of addiction services from prevention through outpatient treatment and long-term recovery, impacting addiction across the lifespan.
As part of their sponsorship, CareSource waived the cost for any Ohio youth to attend.
“This is a camp experience like no other,” says Stephanie Christie, CompDrug’s Director of Development and Marketing. “Teen leaders and adult allies, called Youth Staff and Adult Staff, work uniquely as a team to create a life-changing experience for participants. They go through intensive training to prepare to facilitate small discussion ‘Family Groups,’ teambuilding challenges and other activities throughout the 4-day conference that set an inclusive, energetic tone.”
Youth leaders are on stage delivering content, and behind-the-scenes producing the content. Nationally known speakers, workshops and other programs educate teens on a variety of relevant topics from vaping to social pressure, mental health and so much more. Nightly social events and an intentionally interactive environment allow for opportunities for teens to create lifelong friendships, build confidence and learn how to make a real difference in their communities.
“Witnessing these highschoolers blossom into leaders of tomorrow is a privilege,” says Pam Sanborn, Manager, Behavioral Health Clinical Programming at CareSource. “The energy and accomplishments of this conference are infectious and inspiring. CareSource is honored to invest into our Ohio youth’s lives.”
To ensure impact goes beyond the 4-day conference, community groups work together during the conference to develop an “Action Plan” that outlines how they will use what they’ve learned to create positive change in their community. The result is an incredibly unique, emotionally powerful, educational, and inspirational conference that teaches young people and their adult allies how to create community change together.
“This conference provides an amazing opportunity for these youth,” says Stephanie Stitt, Director of Behavioral Health, CareSource Ohio Market. “Their level of commitment to their peers, families, and communities is unmatched. CareSource values this unique opportunity to play such a large part in opening this door for this experience.”
In 1982, Youth to Youth pioneered a model of drug and alcohol prevention that empowers youth to take a lead role in creating and designing the programs that are delivered “for peers, by peers.” This youth-development and leadership approach builds assets and reduces risk factors among youth.
Today, Youth to Youth has a 40-year history of successfully engaging youth across cultures and geographic regions and is recognized as a leader of youth-led prevention in Ohio and nationally. Hundreds of communities in the United States and abroad have chosen the Y2Y model to initiate or improve their positive prevention programming. Y2Y acts as both a national trainer and leader in youth-led prevention, as well as conducting programs locally throughout Central Ohio.