Over a thousand Vancouver teens and tweens supplied the voice and direction for Youth Now, a youth-focused marijuana prevention campaign that’s launching on 4/20, a day normally synonymous with the code for smoking cannabis. The campaign’s main message, Weed Can Wait, aims to encourage youth to delay first use of cannabis until after the legal age of 21 in Washington and Oregon.
On 4/20, the Youth Now campaign will kick off with the first of five pop-up parties at Clark and Skamania County schools to introduce kids to the brand and begin to engage them with the social media elements of the campaign also launching that day on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.
While the messaging and how it’s delivered is directed by local youth, the execution of the campaign is supported by PREVENT! Coalition. The coalition brings together a wide circle of community members for the common goal of creating greater health and well-being for everyone. Even those with seemingly opposite opinions about marijuana, like local law enforcement and recreational retailers New Vansterdam and High End Marketplace, are coming together to support youth prevention.
“We’re opening the conversation about cannabis in a non-judgmental way by talking with youth about choices and coping using their own language,” said Shane Gardner, Manager of School Safety and Security at Evergreen Public Schools and Chair of PREVENT!.
THE 411 ON YOUTH NOW:
* 1,200 local middle and high school kids took an anonymous survey asking questions about how youth engage with marijuana prevention messages and how they perceive their exposure or risk. The PREVENT! Coalition used those comments to shape the message language and delivery for Youth Now.
* Outreach includes:
– An aggressive social media campaign on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and SnapChat
– Pop-up parties at five schools in Clark and Skamania Counties to raise awareness
– In partnership with Leadership Clark County, “Lock it up” cards reminding adults to keep their cannabis secure and out of reach at home will be given out with every purchase at New Vansterdam and High End Marketplace marijuana retailers
– Ads on 20 bus tails and inside 40 buses starting May 15th
– Ads on Pandora, a popular free music app
– The Cannabis Conversations Toolkit with common marijuana slang, consumption methods, effects, reasons for use and age-specific talking points to help adults talk with youth
* The Youth Now campaign, run by Clark County’s PREVENT! Coalition, is the result of a Department of Health grant funded by Washington State tax dollars from marijuana sales.
WHY DELAYING FIRST USE IS IMPORTANT:
* According to the Healthy Youth Survey, an increasing number of Clark and Skamania County youth are beginning to use marijuana regularly as early as 5th and 6th grades.
* Brains continue to develop through age 25.
* Marijuana affects the parts of the brain that control emotions, memory and judgment.
* The earlier a youth begins to use drugs, the more likely they are to progress to dependence.
* Heavy marijuana use by teens has been linked to lower grades, lower likelihood of graduating from high school or enrolling in college and a higher likelihood of earning a lower income or being unemployed
* If cited with underage use teens can lose federal financial aid and incur other societal consequences
Founded in 2006, PREVENT! is a group of diverse community members working together to prevent youth substance abuse in Clark County, WA, using an evidence-based framework. Working in collaboration with parents, youth, schools, media, business, government, faith communities, law enforcement, youth-serving organizations, civic groups, health care professionals, and prevention organizations; PREVENT! is focused on improving the environment surrounding youth to create a community culture that promotes prevention and honors healthy living. PREVENT! is supported by the Drug Free Communities Support Program, the ESD 112 and over 440 community members and organizations across Clark County.