Vernon ROCKS Attends National Conference


Members of the Coalition attended CADCA’s 30th Annual National Leadership Forum in the beginning of February. The forum is the largest event for community-based substance use and misuse prevention, providing training, connections, resources and information.

Members in attendance were: The Coalition Program Director, Kaitlin Carafa; Coalition Program Coordinator, Cassandra Schend; Coalition Chairperson and Director Vernon Youth Service Bureau, Michelle Hill; Coalition Youth Advocate, Holly Hansen; Vernon Police Lieutenant Bill Meier; and Clinic Supervisor at HVCC, Steven Jackson.  Three youth members; Amani, Angie, and Emily, were also in attendance!

We attended Capitol Hill Day, providing the opportunity to discuss the importance of substance use prevention efforts with policymakers, as well as attended a rally outside of The United States Capitol.

Above: Coalition members meeting with Joe Courtney, U.S. Representative for Connecticut’s 2nd congressional district to discuss drug use prevention

Youth coalition members attend a rally outside the Capitol

Coalition members outside the United States Capitol

Youth members passionately discuss the need for drug use prevention in their local community with Connecticut policymakers’ staffers


The coalition was selected to be a part of a group of 25 coalitions to present a poster demonstrating the success our Real Talk Campaign has had throughout Vernon in reducing youth alcohol use.

Above: Real Talk Vernon poster on display at the conference

Coalition members pose in front of our Real Talk poster


We attended SAMSHA’s 16th Annual Prevention Day, where we were able to learn about the prevention priorities for the coming year.  We listened to expert speakers discuss evidence-based preventive interventions and findings from the latest developments in the areas of substance abuse prevention, treatment, recovery, and mental illness.

Above: Youth members got the opportunity to meet the Director ofThe Office of National Drug Control Policy, James Carrol


Some of the educational workshops we attended were: 

Gen-Z Marketing: Engaging the Next Generation Youth Vaping Epidemic in the U.S.
Keep them Safe, Keep them Healthy: Engaging Schools in Prevention Exploring the Intersection of Opioids, Adverse Childhood Experiences, and Suicide
Warning: This Presentation Contains Graphic Content Youth Recruitment- Beyond the Basics



In addition to the immense learning and growth the Coalition was able to experience we still had time to squeeze in a little fun

Above: Amani Clemons- Future Commander in Chief

Real Talk members at dinner with youth members of The Change Collaborative of Manchester

Read more about the trip HERE 

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