Christine Pennington, Elaina Martin, Will Stembridge, and Liam Hudson, all of the Southside Wellness Coalition leadership team, recently attended the CADCA National Leadership Forum from Jan. 29 to Feb. 1, 2024.
The Forum provides a platform for coalitions from across the nation to come together and be fully immersed in the most up-to-date prevention efforts and
needs. To best address our local needs, the Southside members attended multiple sessions regarding marijuana misuse prevention, building stronger prevention campaigns for youth, improving data collection, and general skill-building sessions to improve and expand community outreach.
In addition to the sessions, the SWC members attended Capitol Hill Day and met with Representative Bob Good of VA Region 5 as well as a staff member for Senator Mark Warner. These important meetings provided a platform to raise awareness to some of the issues currently present in the Southside community. Our members specifically addressed the need for more consistent and abundant prevention funding that is protected on a Federal level, the lack of resources available to members of the Southside community, and the need for improved data collection and reporting across the region and state. Additionally, each Southside leadership team member shared unique challenges from their professional perspectives due in large part to the lack of prevention and substance-use related support.
Overall, the CADCA National Leadership Forum provided the attending members with a newly invigorated sense of direction. Each member shared that they felt further compelled to advocate for and implement new prevention efforts in our region.
Look out 2024, the Southside Wellness Coalition leadership team is about to hit the ground running!