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South L.A. student leaders talk underage drug abuse

Saturday at Trade Tech College

Isabell Rivera OW Contributor | 5/16/2019, 10:01 a.m.

On Saturday at Trade Tech College, 400 W. Washington Blvd., more than 80 student leaders from across the area will gather for the Emerging Leaders Youth Summit scheduled from 9 a.m. to 2:30 p.m.

The summit is one of several planned strategies geared toward teaching youth the harms of alcohol, marijuana, tobacco and prescription drug misuse, and how to access community led resources that help prevent underage drug abuse. Following the summit, students will commit to spreading awareness among their peers. Substance misuse and abuse in communities is often brought on by unhealthy relationships, negative coping skills, and trauma-related experiences. The summit will provide youth with the tools to assess their relationships and equip them with knowledge about navigating law enforcement. It will also promote unity among Black and Brown youth who are faced with similar experiences in substance abuse, violence, and other issues in South Los Angeles.

This type of preventative programming has quite an impact especially in South L.A., a community that has long dealt with the fallout from the unjust overcriminalization of drug use. It’s no secret that the county’s prison population currently holds an unproportionate amount of Black and Brown people who were given long sentences for possession of small amounts of drugs. The summit aims to help prevent drug use before it happens, knowing its health risks and how it has been criminalized in South L.A.

The organizers behind the event make up the SPA 6 Prevention Coalition – a collaborative of South LA community organizations including Avalon-Carver, Community Coalition, People Coordinated Services, South Central Prevention Coalition, Volunteers of America, and Watts Healthcare Corporation.

For nearly 30 years, Community Coalition has provided a hub to elevate South L.A.’s voice and empower residents to take control over the future of their neighborhood. Community Coalition works with residents to build a prosperous and healthy South L.A. with safe neighborhoods, quality schools, and a strong social safety net. The coalition continues to work on positive economic development that reduces crime, poverty and substance abuse in South L.A. through resident organizing, direct advocacy and community support services.

For more information visit www.cocosouthla.org.