November 2023


Middle School Families Attend Healthy Conversations Workshop

On October 18, middle school parents and teens gathered at the George Washington Middle School library to participate in Healthy Conversations, an interactive workshop about making choices during adolescence. Alexandria City Public Schools (ACPS) Superintendent Dr. Melanie Kay-Wyatt welcomed families to the event and spoke on the importance of working together to prioritize prevention. During this event, families learned about foundational relationship building, strategies to show love and support, and how to address difficult topics, such as vaping, cannabis, alcohol, and dating. Families also had time to practice addressing difficult scenarios together.

This workshop was hosted by SAPCA, the ACPS Family and Community Engagement Center, the Alexandria Campaign on Adolescent Pregnancy (ACAP), and the Keep It 360 Peer Advocates. The Keep It 360 Peer Advocates are a group of Alexandria youth who work closely with SAPCA, ACAP, and the Alexandria Sexual Assault Center to support prevention and outreach efforts.

Couldn’t make it to this event? Explore tips for communicating with teens here.

Project Sticker Shock Campaign Highlights Consequences of Providing Alcohol to Youth

On Saturday, October 21, teams of youth and adults "shocked" local shoppers by hosting the Project Sticker Shock Campaign. Alexandria City High School (ACHS) students involved in the U.S. Army Junior Reserve Officers' Training Corps (JROTC) program kicked-off this youth-led event with a press conference featuring guest speakers SAPCA Chair Allen Lomax, Police Chief Don Hayes, and Sheriff Sean Casey.

Following this press conference, teams of youth and adults visited 53 Alexandria retailers to place warning stickers on multi-packs of alcohol to highlight the legal consequences of providing alcohol to persons under 21. Retailers who participated in the campaign include Giant Food, Safeway, 7-Eleven, and a host of small grocery and convenience stores.  All participating retail stores received a certificate in recognition of their partnership to prevent underage alcohol access.

This campaign aims to reach community members ages 21 and older who may purchase alcohol legally and then illegally provide it to a person under age 21. In Virginia, it is a Class 1 misdemeanor to provide alcohol to a minor. It is also illegal for anyone to use a fake ID to purchase alcohol. Adults who provide alcohol to persons under age 21 can face the following penalties upon conviction:

  • A $2,500 fine for each young person provided an alcoholic beverage
  • Up to 12 months in jail
  • Loss of driver’s license for up to 12 months

This event was hosted by SAPCA in collaboration with the Alexandria Police Department; the Alexandria Sheriff’s Office; the Department of Community and Human Services; the Department of Recreation, Parks & Cultural Activities; and the ACHS U.S. Army JROTC program. SAPCA is appreciative of our partners for their help kicking off this important campaign and speaking up about the importance of preventing access to alcohol by underage youth.

The JROTC program prepares high school students for responsible leadership roles while making them aware of their rights, responsibilities and privileges as American citizens. Core courses include Techniques of Communications, Leadership Lab, Map Reading, History, Citizenship, Drug and Alcohol Abuse Prevention and Cadet Challenge.

To report concerns regarding the sale or provision of alcohol to persons under age 21, call the Alexandria Police Department’s non-emergency number at 703.746.4444 or file a report online to the Virginia Alcoholic Beverage Control Authority.

Alexandria Celebrates Red Ribbon Week

Each year, SAPCA joins our community in celebrating Red Ribbon Week from October 23-31. Red Ribbon Week is the oldest and largest drug prevention program and is an ideal way for people and communities to unite and take a visible stand against drugs. This year's theme wasBe Kind To Your MindLive Drug Free.” 

This year, SAPCA participated in Red Ribbon Week by:

  • Encouraging students to enter the Red Ribbon Week Poster Contest by November 15, 2023. Three winners will receive a $100 gift card and have their poster featured in Red Ribbon Week 2024! 
  • Recognizing Red Ribbon Week through a City proclamation.
  • Encouraging students and parents to take the Red Ribbon Week Pledge to stand up against substance use.
  • Distributing 5,000 stress balls to Alexandria City Public Schools (ACPS) school staff and administrators to share with students.
  • Assisting in the development of community circles delivered to ACPS elementary, middle and high school students. During community circles, students explored topics that are essential to healthy development, including communication skills; helping a friend in need; resisting peer pressure; boundaries; and the health and social consequences of using alcohol, e-cigarettes, marijuana, and prescription and over-the-counter medication. 

Thanks to everyone who helped make these activities a huge success!

City Council Recognizes Red Ribbon Week in Alexandria

On October 24, SAPCA joined several of our community partners for the presentation of a proclamation declaring October 23-31 as Red Ribbon Week in the City of Alexandria. During this presentation, ACPS Superintendent Dr. Melanie Kay-Wyatt and SAPCA Chair Allen Lomax spoke about the importance of substance use prevention efforts. The 2023 Red Ribbon Week poster contest winners were also recognized and invited to showcase their winning designs as part of this presentation. Please join us in congratulating the winners of the 2023 Red Ribbon Week Poster Contest:

  • Sarah McBurney, 11th grade student at Alexandria City High School
  • Tasnia Rahman, 6th grade student at Francis C. Hammond Middle School
  • Honey Lopez, 8th grade at Jefferson-Houston PreK-8 IB School

In addition to receiving a $100 gift card and a framed copy of their poster, these students’ winning posters are featured as part of the 2023 Red Ribbon Week campaign. SAPCA appreciates the hard work and support of our partners during Red Ribbon Week, and year-round, to prevent youth substance use and misuse in our community.

Click here to watch the presentation of this proclamation.

Click here to learn more about Red Ribbon Week.

Fall Medication Disposal Recap

With the support of multiple efforts to prevent and end medication misuse and abuse, the City of Alexandria collected and safely disposed of a total of 957 lbs. of unused, expired and unwanted prescription and over-the-counter medication. On October 28, 338 lbs. of medication were collected during National Prescription Drug Take Back Day. Additionally, 619 lbs. of medication have been collected this fall from the City of Alexandria's year-round permanent medication drop boxes. 

SAPCA thanks and recognizes our community partners for their efforts to dispose of unused and expired medication safely:

  • Alexandria Police Department
  • Alexandria Sheriff's Office
  • Neighborhood Pharmacy of Del Ray
  • Fire Station 210
  • Woodbine Rehabilitation & Healthcare Center
  • Goodwin House Alexandria
  • Alexandria Opioid Work Group
  • Alexandria Medical Reserve Corp
  • Inova Alexandria

We are also thankful for the wonderful volunteers that supported outreach efforts during drug take back day. Please join us in recognizing Elizabeth Williams, Ding Madlansacay, Flo Bryan, Len Horning, Louise Van Diepen, Peter Georgacopoulos, and Virginia Horning for their help distributing free at home drug disposal kits and sharing information about our community's year-round permanent medication drop boxes.

Needles are not accepted in the permanent medication drop boxes. Dispose of needles and syringes at a separate permanent drop box specifically for these items located inside the visitor's entrance at Inova Alexandria Hospital. The box is accessible at the same location and hours as the hospital’s drop off box for medications. 

Visit for more information about safe medicine disposal and to learn about Alexandria’s efforts regarding the opioid crisis.

Community Connections: Highlighting Prevention

Last month, SAPCA delivered several presentations to raise awareness about our community's efforts to prevent youth substance use, share information about the consequences of youth substance use, and promote prevention resources. Check out a recap of these presentations below:

  • On October 11, SAPCA Coordinator Emma Beall spoke to 50 parents during the Patrick Henry PTA's virtual meeting about SAPCA's major events and activities, upcoming events, and resources to support youth.
  • On October 11, SAPCA Chair Allen Lomax joined ACAP Chair Helen Morris and ACAP Coordinator Maggie Ryan to deliver a joint presentation to members of the Children Youth and Families Collaborative Commission about how the coalitions collaborate to promote positive youth development.
  • On October 19 and October 26, STOP Act Grant Coordinator Alina Selnick-Escobar visited the Liberty’s Promise after-school club at ACHS. Alina was able to engage 20 students with an interactive presentation focused on the facts and consequences of using substances, how to respond to peer pressure, and the benefits of learning how to utilize healthy coping skills. Students then created individual coping skill reference sheets in the form of "self-care menus."
  • On October 27, SAPCA Coordinator Emma Beall presented to 11 parents during the Lyles-Crouch Traditional Academy Parent Coffee to share information about supporting students to make healthy choices and distribute copies of the parent handbook. The parent handbook is a resource guide created by Operation Parent that raises awareness about the latest trends, warning signs, and tips for effective parent/child communication. The Elementary School Parent Handbook and the Middle & High School Parent Handbook are both available in English and Spanish.

SAPCA appreciates these opportunities to connect with our community and looks forward to continuing to collaborate with our partners to reach children, youth and families in our community.

Save the Date: Titan Takeover on November 3

Titan Takeover Teen Nights are held at local recreation centers on Friday evenings to provide Alexandria teens with a safe place to hang out and have fun. These events feature a DJ, photo booth, free dinner, gift card raffles, games and more! The next Titan Takeover Teen Night will take place on Friday, November 3, from 7-10 p.m. at Charles Houston Recreation Center (901 Wythe St.) Teens can text TITAN to 571.640.2898 to RSVP for this event.

These events are hosted by SAPCA, ACAP, the Alexandria Sexual Assault Center, and the Department of Recreation, Parks & Cultural Activities.

City of Alexandria To Host Youth and Caring Adult Summit to Support Youth Safety

In an effort to further advance youth safety and resilience efforts, a Youth and Caring Adult Summit is scheduled for Thursday, November 9 at 4:30 p.m. at the First Baptist Church at 2932 King St. Led by Youth Ambassadors of the City’s recently launched Youth Ambassador Program, the workshop will focus on mental health and supporting a sense of safety among youth. It is open to all high school-aged youth and their caregivers to attend. Click here to register.

The City has also developed a Youth Resources webpage to help ensure that children, youth, and their families are aware of available resources. Among these is the Teen Text Line. Teens can text TEEN, SEX, DRUGS, or GANGS to 571.640.2898 to get answers to questions on health, relationships, pregnancy, drugs, alcohol, violence, and gangs within 24 hours, Monday through Friday, from trained City staff.

Learn more about the City's youth safety and resilience efforts here.


Fact of the Month: Ask ACPS

Each month, SAPCA will be highlighting a key fact to support our community to prevent youth substance use. This month we will be highlighting ways to communicate concerns with ACPS.

The ACPS Anonymous Reporting System allows students, staff, families and community members to securely and anonymously report concerns about someone in our school division who has experienced bullying or another incident that affects safety and well-being, or who may potentially be a danger to themselves or others. To report an incident, please download the app and use the online form in the app, which is available in multiple languages. More information about this system can also be found here. To report an emergency or a crime in progress, please call 911.

ACPS also provides Ask ACPS, an easy way for for families, students, staff and community members to engage with ACPS leadership on division-wide concerns. Simply fill out this form or email to share your concern or comment. Note: Ask ACPS is monitored 8:00 a.m. - 5:00 p.m., Monday - Friday. 

For school-specific questions or communications concerning your student, please continue to contact your child’s teacher, school support staff or the front office related to your student. Not sure who to contact with your question or concerns? Please review this communications guide.

Quick Links
Learn More About SAPCA
Upcoming Events & Resources

Click here to register.

Family Volunteer Day is Saturday, November 18

Volunteer Alexandria is excited to host the annual Family Volunteer Day on Saturday, November 18. Volunteers will create wrapping paper and gift tags for a toy drive to benefit Alexandria families. All materials and supplies will be provided and a $10 donation is greatly appreciated to help Volunteer Alexandria run this event. Families of all ages are invited to join us at the Patrick Henry Recreation Center spend time to every family has a special holiday season.


Advance registration is required. Sign-up here for the 9:30 a.m. - 10:30 a.m. shift and sign-up here for the 10:45 a.m. - 11:45 a.m. shift. Volunteer Alexandria is committed to accommodating individuals with disabilities. To request a reasonable accommodation, please email or call Cordell Fields at 703.836.2176.

Save the Date: James Bland Memorial Music Scholarship Competition

The Alexandria Host Lions Club will be sponsoring the James Bland Memorial Music Scholarship Competition on Sunday, February 18, from 2-4 p.m. at the Lyceum (201 S. Washington Street). This competition is a wonderful opportunity to support talented young musicians in our community and provide them with a chance to further their musical education.

The competition is open to all pre-college students who reside in or attend school in Northern Virginia.

Winning students will have the opportunity to advance through several levels of competition, culminating in the Virginia State Competition in April 2024. A total of twenty-four thousand dollars ($24,000) in scholarships will be awarded to participants at the state level, with individual awards ranging from $1,500 to $3,000. Transportation and lodging costs will be provided for the state competition.

Qualified instrumental students who wish to participate should submit a completed registration form no later than Thursday, January 4, 2024. Forms can be emailed to Ellen Cleary at

Alexandria Teens: Join Youth Engaged in Service

Volunteer Alexandria's Youth Engaged in Service (YES) is inviting students in grades 6 through 12 to join YES. YES participants will engage with non-profits, city agencies, and residents in Alexandria to create and implement projects, as students earn service hours and explore career paths.


Youth voices and input will help determine what’s important and relevant for youth; expand the network of youth engaged in service; share ideas and help plan and create new programming; engage and mobilize peers to act; assess the city's volunteer needs for youth; and can improve how and what Volunteer Alexandria does to engage youth.


Youth Advisory Council Responsibilities and Expectations:

  • Must be a resident of and/or attend a school in the City of Alexandria.
  • Be a middle or high school student (grades 6 - 12).
  • Participate on the Youth & Family Advisory Council for a minimum of one academic school year, and be an active member.
  • Provide constructive views on issues.
  • Represent Volunteer Alexandria in your school, your extracurricular activities, and amongst your friends and greater community.


Click here to express interest in becoming a YES committee member. If you have any questions, contact Cordell Fields at

Connect With Us
Facebook  Twitter  Youtube  
Alexandria Teen Life
Instagram  Twitter  
Contact Us
Emma Beall, MPH
SAPCA Coordinator
O: 703.746.3670 
C: 571.302.1022

Substance Abuse Prevention Coalition of Alexandria 

4850 Mark Center Drive

Alexandria, VA 22311