November 2019 
Highlights & Annoucements
Mayor's Campaign to End Bullying Host "Rise Above It" Workshops

This month, over 60 elementary and middle school students attended two free workshops hosted by the Mayor's Campaign to End Bullying. During these events, students learned how to engage in conflict and resolve disputes to rise above bullying and other life challenges.
Major Chris Piercy, a certified conflict resolution specialist, presented these workshops to teach the students techniques for being an upstander.

Student participants represented the following schools:
  • Charles Barrett Elementary School 
  • Cora Kelly School for Math, Science and Technology 
  • Ferdinand T. Day Elementary School 
  • Francis C. Hammond Middle School
  • George Washington Middle School
  • James K. Polk Elementary School 
  • John Adams Elementary School
  • Matthew Maury Elementary School
  • Mount Vernon Community School 
  • Patrick Henry K-8 School
  • William Ramsay Elementary School 
According to, " Bystanders can choose to become an upstander and make a positive difference in a bullying situation. Choosing to become an upstander can help to stop the bullying, can help to support the person being bullied and can also limit the traumatic effect that witnessing bullying can have."

Here are some ways youth can be an upstander when they see bullying:
  • Speak up and engage
    • Call it like you see it - "You're being a bully right now.'"
    • Ask a direct question - "Why are you treating him/her like that?"
    • Create a distraction
  • Be kind
    • Show empathy towards the victim - "That's happened to met too" or "You didn't deserve that"
  • Know who to ask for help
    • Tell a parent, teacher, coach, or other trusted adult
For more information about the Mayor's Campaign to End Bullying, click here. 

November Titan Takeover Recap

On Friday, November 15, over 90  teens across Alexandria attended a fall-themed Titan Takeover Teen Night at William Ramsay Recreation Center. Students enjoyed  pizza, raffles and giveaways, music, dancing, and a photo booth. Students also participated in a dodgeball tournament and created art with positive messaging. Stay tune d for information about our next Titan Takeover!

City Accepting Feedback from Public on Opioid Response Plan Through December 7

The City of Alexandria is accepting public feedback through December 7 on the Opioid Work Group's three year strategic plan to address the local effects of the national opioid crisis.

Residents can access a draft of the plan, ask questions and give feedback through an online forum.

The plan is a result of extensive engagement and collaboration with community members and experts to develop a comprehensive strategy to eliminate opioid misuse and its harmful effects throughout the city. It centers on five focus areas: prevention and education, treatment and recovery, supply reduction, diversion of people with addiction into treatment, and collaborative response to opioid overdoses.

The Opioid Work Group, comprised of representatives from a wide range of City services and partners, published a draft of the plan and began accepting feedback in October. The group also presented a draft of the plan at a community event at T.C. Williams on November 18. The event included a short presentation followed by round-table style opportunities for community members to engage Work Group representatives, ask questions and share any items that were missing from the plan.

"That event was a wonderful opportunity for us as a work group," said Opioid Response Coordinator Emily Bentley. "We were able to have engaged conversations, and it helped raise some critical areas for us to consider as we put the final touches on the plan."  The Work Group expects to release the final plan in January 2020. 

For more information about the opioid crisis and the City's response, visit
SAPCA Collaborates with Partners to Deliver Assemblies to Middle School Students 

Representatives from SAPCA, Alexandria City Public Schools and the Drug Enforcement Administration presented assemblies to all 6th, 7th and 8th grade health and PE students at Francis C. Hammond Middle School this month. 

D uring these assemblies, students learned about the health and legal consequences of using substances, including alcohol, e-cigarettes and prescription drugs. Students also brainstormed creative ways to resist peer pressure. Thank you so much to our partners for helping facilitate these conversations and to the staff at Hammond Middle School for inviting us to present this information to nearly 1,500 students!

SAPCA Attends Regional Suicide Prevention Forum

On October 31, the Suicide Prevention Alliance of Northern Virginia (SPAN) hosted "Promoting Wellness and Preventing Suicide in Northern Virginia," a regional suicide prevention forum . This forum kicked-off with keynote speaker Kevin Hines, a survivor and suicide prevention speaker who gained nationwide fame for surviving an attempt at taking his own life by jumping from the Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco, California. Participants then attended one of two breakout sessions:

  • Youth session - Programs in schools: Lessons learned
  • Older adult session- Strategies for inclusion.
During this event, SAPCA distributed locking medicine boxes and gun locks as part of the 
Lock and Talk Campaign,  Northern Virginia's comprehensive approach to suicide prevention, as well as drug disposal bags and other promotional items.

Project Wellness November Spotlight: Angst Screening

On Thursday, November 14, from 6-7:30 p.m., the T.C. Williams Parent Teacher Student Association (PTSA) partnered with the T.C. Williams School Counseling Department, the Alexandria PTA Council  the and ACPS Department of Student Services to show a free screening of the Indieflix Film Angst to students, parents, teachers and community members. A dubbed Spanish-speaking version of Angst was also shown. A community circle activity was held after the film screening to provide time for attendees to process and connect before heading home. 

Before and after the event, Emma Beall and Dr. Giordana De Altin Popiolek from the City's Department of Community and Human Services distributed resources anxiety and depression resources developed specifically for teens.

The screening of Angst is the kick-off event for Project Wellness: Healthy Titans are Happy Titans, a joint initiative between the TCW School Counseling Department and TCW PTSA to explicitly promote wellness among our students/community.

Angst is an IndieFlix Original documentary designed to raise awareness around anxiety. The film includes interviews with kids, teens, educators, experts, parents and a very special interview with Olympic Gold Medalist, Michael Phelps. The goal is to help people identify and understand the symptoms of anxiety and encourage them to reach out for help. Angst screens in schools, communities and theaters around the world. 

#FactOfTheMonth: A Spotlight on SAPCA's Text Line

 highlights one key fact about substance use.  This month we provide a helpful resource our coalition provides: our text line!

This service provides answers to questions teens, parents and community members have about alcohol, marijuana, e-cigarettes, prescription and over-the-counter medications, and other substance related topics.

To ask a question, text DRUGS to 30644. Responses are generally provided within 24 hours.

While waiting on a response, you can visit our website to see if it has the answer to your question.

Have an idea for our next #FactOfTheMonth ? Email Emma Beall at
Update: Outbreak of Lung Injury Associated with E-Cigarette Use, or Vaping, Grows

The number of vaping-related injuries continues to increase and there is new information related to e-cigarette or vaping product use-associated lung injury (EVALI).

Recent laboratory testing of samples of fluid collected from the lungs of 29 patients with EVALI  found vitamin E acetate in  all of the fluid samples tested by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).  

Vitamin E acetate is used as an additive in the production of e-cigarette, or vaping, products.  This is the first time that the CDC has detected a potential chemical of concern in biologic samples from patients with these lung injuries
The CDC continues to recommend that people should not use e-cigarette, or vaping, products that contain THC, particularly from informal sources like friends, or family, or in-person or online dealers and will continue to provide updates as more data become available.

According to the CDC, a s of November 20, 2019, there  have been 2,290 cases of lung injury in 49 states, the District of Columbia, and 2 U.S. territories. There have been 47 deaths confirmed in 25 states and the District of Columbia associated with e-cigarette or vaping products in the U.S. 

As of October 11, 2019, in Virginia there have been 50 cases and one death. Eighteen of the cases were reported in the Northern Health Region, which includes Alexandria, Arlington, Fairfax, Loudon and Prince William.

All reported cases have a history of e-cigarette product use or vaping.  Based on initial data from certain states: 
  • Most patients have reported a history of using e-cigarette products containing THC.
  • Many patients have reported using THC and nicotine. 
  • Some have reported the use of e-cigarette products containing only nicotine.
Individuals with a history of vaping who are experiencing breathing problems should seek medical care right away.Visit    to learn more about vaping-related illnesses.

Looking for tips for talking to teens about vaping? Click here.
Upcoming Community Events
Join the KeepIt360 Club! 

The KeepIt360 club meets every week on Wednesdays at T.C. Williams High School in Room C210 from 3:30 p.m. - 4:30 p.m.  This club is sponsored by SAPCA and the Alexandria Campaign on Adolescent Pregnancy (ACAP) and is a great opportunity for youth to learn about topics SAPCA and ACAP cover, share their voice and take action in our community! 

Save the Date: Community Parent Support Groups 

The Community Parent Support Group is a safe and supportive meeting place for parents to ask questions, get answers, and discuss topics related to youth and families. This free program will be offered in English and Spanish f rom 7:00 - 8:30 p.m. at the following sites:
December 19, 2019:  Charles Houston Recreation Center
January 30, 2020:  Charles Houston Recreation Center
February 27, 2020:  Charles Houston Recreation Center
March 26, 2020:  Leonard "Chick" Armstrong Recreation Center
April 23, 2020:  Leonard "Chick" Armstrong Recreation Center
May 28, 2020: Charles Houston Recreation Center
For more information, contact Percy White at or visit

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