Youth Leadership Training: Involving Youth in Evidence-based Substance Use Prevention

There are two ways to involve youth and young adults in evidence-based substance use prevention programs.  

The first approach is to provide them with an evidence-based prevention intervention.  This is the most common strategy, and it is a critical one.  However, it is restricted to young people playing a relatively limited and passive role as recipients of the prevention program.  

The second approach is to train young people as peer leaders.  This model involves training youth or young adults to assume a more responsible and active role in providing an evidence-based prevention program to their peers. 

Training youth and young adults as evidence-based prevention program implementers opens youth to experiencing additional benefits beyond receiving a prevention intervention, including:   

  • Becoming a positive role model,
  • Experiencing providing meaningful service to others,
  • Learning professional responsibilities, and
  • Gaining personal and leadership knowledge, skills and self-confidence. 

This unique type of youth leadership training offers young people an opportunity to learn and demonstrate evidence-based prevention program implementation and evaluation skills and knowledge as trained and certified prevention specialists.  

That is why this strategy is ideal for all young people, including volunteer peer mentors, general youth populations, and high-risk groups of youth and young adults. 

Complex and multi-session evidence-based prevention programs are not feasible interventions for training in youth leadership and would likely not be successfully implemented.   

However, the scripted, single-session evidence-based SPORT Prevention Plus Wellness Program for youth and InShape Prevention Plus Wellness Program for college students/young adults are ideally suited for youth leadership training because of their relative simplicity, ease and brevity of use.  

The SPORT and InShape Prevention Plus Wellness Programs also have the added flexibility and practicality of allowing implementation in both individual coaching and group instruction formats.    

Youth Leadership Training in Prevention Plus Wellness programs typically includes an adult director, mentor or supervisor paired with a small number of youth or young adults (e.g., 1-5).  

The adult and youth team are first trained and certified to gain the knowledge, skills and self-confidence to effectively implement and evaluate their program.  Then, the adult director/mentor/supervisor alone, or with the youth leadership members, are trained in key supervisory procedures to increase program implementation fidelity and success, including: 

  • Prevention program planning, 
  • Program tailoring, 
  • Addressing potential barriers with solutions, and 
  • Program implementation practice and testing.

The primary goal of Youth Leadership Training in Prevention Plus Wellness (PPW) programs is to have youth and young adults develop hands-on leadership and service skills and experiences by implementing and evaluating a PPW prevention program to typically younger peers.  

However, leadership responsibilities may be tailored to youth based on their age, maturity, ability and experience, and can include activities ranging from data collection and mailing parent materials, to program management and eventually training other youth leaders. 

Leadership training can be provided to youth on PPW’s evidence-based SPORT and InShape Prevention Plus Wellness Programs, or one of our evidence-informed programs, such as In God’s Image, SPORT Marijuana Awareness, SPORT 2 Prevention Plus Wellness, or the Marijuana Awareness Media Campaign. 

Like our PPW Program Implementer Training Workshops, the Certified Youth Leadership Training Workshop in Prevention Plus Wellness runs 5 hours in length.    

A Training of Trainers (TOT) segment can also be added for those adults and advanced youth leaders who wish to train future young people in implementing and evaluating a Prevention Plus Wellness program.  This training is 3 more hours in length. 

Price: $249.  Includes program materials for youth volunteers.