In 2015, GUIDE’s focus on partnership and collaborations truly led to a year of working together for safe and healthy communities. Through a number of new and long-term relationships, we were able to increase our reach, expand the prevention and youth development capacity of our state and continue to produce high-quality results in all areas. Here are six notable highlights of our 2015 work:
1. Through collaboration with the Gwinnett County Department of Licensing and Revenue, we have been successful in creating a systems change. A new Gwinnett County Alcohol Training guide was developed to highlight laws and ordinances, while also providing resources related to signs of intoxication, how to properly check identification and more for employees. Now, before a retailer can pay for their alcohol permit renewal, they must download the training guide. This change to the system will mean that more retailers understand the laws and consequences of failing to check for identification and selling alcohol to minors. We expect that this understanding will lead to better training and fewer illegal sales which will decrease the number of minors who can access alcohol through these venues. A change like this doesn’t happen quickly and this is something GUIDE Staff have worked on for a long time. Thanks to this collaborative effort, this change can have ripples throughout the community for years to come.
2. Our Youth Advisory Board (YAB) worked together to design a campaign aimed at educating their peers and the community on the dangers of marijuana use, as well as encouraging students to not skip school on April 20 (4/20). More than 100 students signed a pledge indicating that they would not skip school on April 20 to smoke marijuana, and 9,342 people saw these messages during the in-school campaigns and on social media. This youth-led campaign applied for and received the Disney Friends for Change grant to support their efforts.
3. The “Branch Out” theme for Georgia Teen Institute (GTI) 2015 wasn’t just a t-shirt we wore for a couple of weeks. Rather, we encouraged our 45 Youth Action Teams (YATs) to continue branching out in their communities after GTI was over. The dedicated teams of youth leaders and the adults who support them conducted 509 projects and meetings designed to raise awareness, meet community needs, provide leadership training and otherwise positively impact their schools and communities. Through these events, our YATs reached more than 138,922 youth with their messages.
4. An off-shoot of other GUIDE programs, our training and capacity building work continued to grow in 2015. GUIDE offered 57 professional development training events, 22 of which were prevention focused. In total through these events, we reached 1,174 adults. In addition, GUIDE also planned and implemented the second Teens R 4 Me Conference that reached more than 500 youth and adults connected to Georgia’s foster care system, and we worked closely with the Boys and Girls Clubs of America to plan and implement parts of their Youth Development Conference which was attended by over 350 adults from around the country. We also conducted 13 youth leadership training events that reached 330 youth and coordinated the Georgia Division of Family and Children Services – Office of Prevention and Family Support Youth Summit that empowered over 1,000 youth and adults with messages of leadership, abstinence, overcoming obstacles and making healthy choices. By directly impacting the training of over 3,350 youth and adults in 2015, GUIDE is helping strengthen schools and communities across Georgia and the country.
5. This year also included the development of a much stronger partnership with the Gwinnett County Communications Department. By working together, we were able to showcase our Public Service Announcements (PSAs) on TVgwinnett and have assistance in creating a higher quality PSA in several languages with voice-overs. The “Parents are the Key” PSA encouraged parents not to provide alcohol at teen parties while reminding them that they are the key to their child’s success. This collaborative effort with the Communications Department, Center for Pan Asian Community Services (CPACS) and other volunteers has the potential to reach millions. GUIDE’s previous YAB President, Josselyn Garcia, created the drawings for this PSA, translated the message into Spanish and recorded the Spanish voice-over. Another volunteer helped by recording the English voice-over. CPACS Staff translated the PSA into Chinese, Korean and Vietnamese as well as recruited the three volunteers for the voice-overs. This PSA was shown on TVgwinnett and at the Lawrenceville Department of Motor Vehicles, reaching over 487,000 viewers. We also began a partnership with La Vida Radio, and our Spanish PSA was aired in December, reaching over 800,000 people in Gwinnett and surrounding counties. As these PSAs continue to be shown, the numbers keep growing, sharing this important message in Gwinnett and beyond.
6. The YAB received a Proclamation on October 20, designating October 23-31 as Red Ribbon Week in Gwinnett County from the Board of Commissioners. One of our YAB members was able to make a statement to the attendees at the meeting, highlighting what they, as a group, plan and implement and why it’s important. The YAB also organized a prevention obstacle course for the Suwanee Alive Festival. Not only was this the prevention project they began at GTI in June, but it was also a Gwinnett Great Days of Service event. Over 100 people completed the obstacle course, wearing “drunk goggles” and seeing the impact alcohol has on their balance and ability to complete basic skills like jumping rope and walking in a straight line. In addition to the obstacle course, YAB members engaged over 200 people by distributing brain erasers, pencils, prevention materials and “boo bags” with drug-free messages. There were over 500 people who attended the festival, saw the YAB’s booth and learned more information.
Our highlights wouldn’t have been possible without the 16,760 volunteers who completed 48,711 volunteer hours on behalf of GUIDE in 2015. These youth and adults were part of our YATs, Board of Directors, YAB and committees; volunteered in our office, at GTI and other events as well as in their communities and schools; and participated in activities including the Red Ribbon Week obstacle course, filling bags with campaign materials, staffing health fairs, teaching workshops and so much more! We could not have made the impact we did in 2015 without these incredible volunteers.
We look forward to sharing more of our 2015 successes in our 2015 Annual Report. It will be published soon, and we hope you’ll check it out!