In 2014, The Governor’s Prevention Partnership collaborated with the Connecticut State Department of Transportation to research, develop and launch an innovative approach to prevent underage and binge drinking, impaired driving and youth substance abuse. Based on feedback from youth throughout the state, E3: Encourage, Empower, Engage is a peer-to-peer initiative led by trained youth leaders and is now being piloted in seven high schools and community locations.
Young people tell us through surveys and conversations they are frequently confronted with circumstances where they need to make decisions about engaging in underage drinking, binge drinking, drinking and driving, whether or not to get in the car with an impaired driver, and use of other drugs. Our youth are also influenced by the prevalence of prescription drugs and marijuana in their schools and communities, and use of both by young people is on the rise in the state. At the same time, youth report that they are not aware of and do not have access to tools and resources for identifying and making appropriate decisions when faced with high-risk situations.
The goal of the E3 peer-to-peer prevention initiative is to support an alcohol and drug free lifestyle among youth and to increase skills for continuing to make healthy decisions. The program addresses underage and binge drinking, impaired driving, and prevention of substance abuse through self-exploration, reflection, learning and support in a safe environment.
E3 promotes healthy decision making through educational activities, skill development and leadership opportunities. The program includes a structured web-based curriculum supported by youth involvement in school or community-wide campaigns. The curriculum is grounded in research and literature that proves the efficacy of peer-to-peer approaches to reducing and preventing substance abuse. Youth who participate in the peer-to-peer program are armed with the knowledge and skills they need to make good decisions in any setting.
The E3 program is led by trained high school students, under the guidance of a youth advisor and is designed for high-school age youth in school and community settings. The youth facilitators are trained by The Governor’s Prevention Partnership staff and are responsible for presenting the lessons in a format that is easy to understand and use by the participating youth.
The Governor’s Prevention Partnership is partnering with 7 sites to pilot E3, including:
- CREC Two Rivers Magnet School
- Fitch High School, Groton
- Mercy High School, Middletown
- New Canaan RAM Council
- Shelton Youth Service Bureau
- Ulbrich Boys & Girls Club of Wallingford
- Wolcott High School
The Partnership looks forward to expanding the program to additional interested high schools or community youth groups serving high school students next year.
E3 is made possible with funding and support from the Connecticut Department of Transportation’s Highway Safety Office, the Connecticut Department of Mental Health and Addiction Services and private and corporate sponsors.
For more information, including how to bring E3 to your school or community in the coming year, please contact Jacqueline Longo, Program Coordinator, Youth Leadership at firstname.lastname@example.org or (860) 523-8042 x23.