December 2019 
Highlights & Annoucements
SAPCA Hosts "Healthy Youth Healthy Families: Promoting Alcohol-Free Holidays"

On December 10, community members joined the Substance Abuse Prevention Coalition of Alexandria for "Healthy Youth, Healthy Families: Promoting Alcohol-Free Holidays," a town hall discussion about preventing underage drinking.

During this event, participants learned about local data related to underage drinking among teens in Alexandria, including that  the number of teens reporting having used alcohol in the last 30 days dropped from 34 percent in 2011 to 16 percent in 2019--a 42% decrease.

Participants then learned how SAPCA is addressing underage drinking by:
  • Presenting "Facts and Consequences" presentations to middle and high school students, which share the health and legal consequences of using substances and feature an interactive activity to help students brainstorm creative ways to resist peer pressure.
  • Celebrating Red Ribbon Week, the oldest and largest drug prevention program.
  • Hosting Project Sticker Shock, a youth-led initiative designed to educate adults who might purchase alcohol legally and provide it to minors. 
  • Promoting Virginia's Social Host Law by educating community members about the legal penalties for adults that provide alcohol to minors - specifically, a $2,500 fine per young person provided any alcoholic beverage.
SAPCA Youth Board Member Kate Harbour and SAPCA Coordinator Emma Beall then provided tips for strong parent-communication before launching into specific tools for how parents can discuss alcohol with their children. One way parents can prevent underage drinking is by promoting the social norm that the majority of teens in Alexandria are not using alcohol.  Participants also learned about other strategies to prevent underage drinking, such as monitoring alcohol use in the home, setting a good example, not supporting teen drinking and encouraging healthy alternatives to alcohol.  Participants were then given opportunities to brainstorm how they would respond to specific scenarios to spark conversations about family boundaries, parent-child communication, and alcohol use. 

The town hall ended with a focus on Developmental Assets, a research-based framework that identifies basic building blocks of human development. Both external and internal assets are important to healthy youth development. External assets include positive developmental experiences provided for youth by networks of supportive people and social systems in the community that offer youth a consistent source of love and respect, opportunities for empowerment, leadership, service as well as creativity, safe interpersonal and physical boundaries and high expectations for personal achievement. Internal assets are those qualities, skills and attributes a community and family can nurture within youth to contribute to their development.

The more assets young people have, the more likely they are to make healthy choices--including not drinking alcohol or using other substances. Anyone can build assets by building and nurturing supportive relationships with young people and encouraging participation in positive activities. 

This was the first in a series of town halls SAPCA will host focused on preventing teen substance use. Stay tuned for more information about our next Healthy Youth, Healthy Families Town Hall!
Volunteer Alexandria Honors Community Changemakers at  "Volunteers Are The Heart of Alexandria"

This December, Volunteer Alexandria hosted the 25th annual "Volunteers Are the Heart of Alexandria" event to honor the work of volunteers who support the Alexandria community by donating their time, talents and skills. We are happy to share that SAPCA Youth Board Member Cadence Claypoole was nominated for the Youth Volunteer Service Award!

Cadence has a desire to be engaged in the community and have a voice on how to reduce and prevent substance usage by youth in Alexandria  She has served on SAPCA's Board since 2017 and took on a leadership position as the Board's secretary in November 2018. Her insight regarding the day-to-day experiences of herself and other high school students has greatly influenced the shaping of SAPCA's strategic plan. 

In addition to her role as a Board member, Cadence assists with events held by SAPCA, including quarterly Drug Take Back Days. During these events, SAPCA volunteers staff tables at one of four sites to provide information about safe disposal of unused and expired medication and promote the coalition's work surrounding substance use and abuse prevention.
Additionally, in November 2018, Cadence volunteered to spearhead the creation of a short video showcasing SAPCA's community meeting in celebration of the coalition's 10th anniversary. She worked independently to recruit a production crew for this event, develop a video script, cover the event, and produce an excellent video.

Please join us in congratulating Cadence for her nomination and thanking her for her dedication to changing our community!
#FactOfTheMonth: "Talk. They Hear You."

Each month, SAPCA  highlights one key fact about substance use.  This month  we highlight the "Talk. They Hear You" campaign,

SAMHSA's "Talk. They Hear You." We Do Hear You PSA-60 Seconds

Even though it might not seem like it, your kids really do listen when you talk to them about alcohol and other substances -- and it's never too early to start having these conversations. Here are some ideas to get the conversation started:
  • Ask your teen's views
  • Debunk myths
  • Discuss reasons not to use substances
  • Plan ways to handle peer pressure
  • Be prepared for questions
  • Set clear expectations
Check out our website to learn more about the facts before you start the next conversation!

Have an idea for our next #FactOfTheMonth ? Email Emma Beall at
SAPCA Youth Board Member Appointed To Serve In Virginia House of Delegates Page Program

T.C. Williams High School Freshman Kate Harbour will be spending the first two months of 2020 in Richmond, VA serving in the Virginia House of Delegates Page Program. 

Each year,  the Speaker of the House of Delegates appoints students from across the Commonwealth to serve as House pages during the regular session of the General Assembly. These young people assist the members of the House of Delegates, the House Clerk's staff, and other legislative staff in the daily duties required for the successful operation of the House of Delegates during the session. "I'm excited to see how people bring their ideas to the General Assembly and how they make them into laws,' Kate said.  Please join us in congratulating Kate on this exciting opportunity!
SAPCA and ACPS Share Information about Vaping 

On December 11, SAPCA Coordinator Emma Beall and Alexandria City Public Schools (ACPS)  Substance Abuse Counselo r Fredy Martinez provided a presentation about e-cigarettes and vaping to the Children, Youth and Families Collaborative Commission (CYFCC). 

During this presentation, commissioners were shown examples of these devices and learned that many of these products contain high levels of nicotine, which can change adolescent brain function. Commissioners also learned about current efforts to address teen e-cigarette use, including the formation of a vaping work group with ACPS students to brainstorm ways to address vaping systemically. The presentation culminated in a discussion about efforts the CYFCC can take to address vaping, such as advocating through op-eds and letters written to other Boards and Commissions.

The CYFCC developed the Children and Youth Master Plan as the basis for the coordination, alignment and delivery of effective services to all city children and youth from birth to 21 years-old and their families. The goals of the plan are to ensure that all children and youth are healthy and safe, academically and vocationally prepared, and socially and civically connected. 

Children and Youth Master Plan Celebrates Accomplishments 

The Alexandria Children, Youth and Families Collaborative Commission (CYFCC) hosted a reception on December 11  to release its "Children and Youth Master Plan Five Year Report" and launch the CYMP 2025.  Since 2012, CYFCC has served as a coordinating body charged with educating and advising the public and elected officials on a wide range of issues that impact the lives of children and families in Alexandria. One of its first duties was the formation of a Children and Youth Master Plan (CYMP), which was completed in 2014. This plan serves as a blueprint to improve outcomes for children, youth and families who call Alexandria their home.
The report is a retrospective on the first five years of the CYMP, providing a qualitative and quantitative overview of the community's effort to enhance the well-being of children and families in Alexandria. It highlights community achievements, contributions to improving children's outcomes and lessons learned. These lessons will guide the CYFCC as it updates the CYMP 2025.
During the event, members of the commission discussed each goal and highlighted key accomplishments in each area. Some highlights included:
  • In 2018, 100% of children receiving child welfare services did not have additional findings of abuse or neglect within 12 months
  • The formation of five Work Groups to advance the Plan's strategies: The Early Care and Education Work Group, Out of School Time Programs Work Group, Healthy Behaviors Work Group, Youth Empowerment Work Group and Healthy Minds Work Group
  • Youth unemployment decreased by 20% for 20-24-year olds
  • Rate of youth reporting the ideal number of Assets (31-40) increased by 60%
  • Overall teen pregnancy decreased
  • Overall substance use decreased
  • Number of youth who considered suicide decreased
  • Children and Youth Master Plan Coordinator was hired
  • Collected local, population-level data to track our progress by routinely administering the Developmental Assets and Youth Risk Behavior surveys
Click here to read the entire report.
CYMP Coordinator, Chelsea Eickert, also gave a speech to kickoff the planning for CYMP 2025.  Eickert shared highlights from a rigorous community engagement journey that involved over 2,100 community members, 88 percent of which were youth. The information gathered from this engagement is now driving the action planning for the next five years--and covers her office walls in the form of colorful "Victory Circles," large circles drawn on poster-size sheets of paper filled with hand-written words expressing the dreams of thousands of community members for Alexandria's youth and community. 
For Eickert, it is an example of what's possible when we work together. "We can achieve a greater impact when we align our efforts to achieve the same goals," she says.
Alexandria City Public Schools (ACPS), Alexandria Health Department, the Partnership for a Healthier Alexandria and the Department of Community and Human Services have united to align respective plans - CYMP 2025, Community Health Improvement Plan 2025, and the ACPS Strategic Plan - to focus on shared outcomes.
If interested in contributing to this effort or joining a work group, email
DCHS Releases Community Impact Report

Every day, Department of Community and Human Services staff work together with a wide range of community partners and volunteers to provide high quality services and programs to maintain, improve and sustain the well-being, safety and self-sufficiency of individuals and families in Alexandria. This month, DCHS released its 2019 Community Impact Report, which shares key accomplishments, important data and stories of people's lives that were changed as a result of that collaboration. Click here to view the full report and make sure to check out page 23 for a special feature on DCHS Youth Development Team Staff Emma Beall and Rashad Price! 
Upcoming Community Events
Winter Program Registration Begins December 18

Registration for winter classes and activities offered by the City of Alexandria's Department of Recreation, Parks and Cultural Activities will begin at 9 a.m. on Wednesday, December 18 for City residents and on Friday, December 20 for nonresidents. Winter registration applies to programs taking place from January through mid-April 2020. Click here to learn more.

Save the Date: Healthy Conversations Dinner

Families, it's time to talk!  The next Healthy  Conversations Dinner will be held on  Wednesday, January 22 from 6 - 8 p.m.  at YMCA Alexandria (420 E Monroe Avenue).  

Healthy Conversations is an interactive workshop hosted by SAPCA and the Alexandria Campaign on Adolescent Pregnacny that features intergenerational conversations between teens and parents about parent-child communication and healthy decision-making. Stay tuned for more information about this event!

View this flyer in  Spanish.
Interested in getting involved with SAPCA?
Contact Us:
Emma Beall, SAPCA Coordinator
Substance Abuse Prevention Coalition of Alexandria 
123 N Pitt St, Suite 225
Alexandria, VA 22314
O: 703.746.3670 
C: 571.302.1022