June 21, 2010
Deborah Burke Henderson


Marlborough, Mass. Over four days next week, more than 600 students and adult advisors from 35 states will have the opportunity to share, learn, and grow at the 2010 SADD (Students Against Destructive Decisions) National Conference. SADD students are committed to making teen lives safer, and they will be challenged and inspired as they gain valuable new skills at numerous workshops and other events. The conference is held in a different city each year to afford young people a new cultural experience, and this year’s conference is June 27-30 at the Hyatt Regency Grand Cypress Resort. The conference theme, “Under the Sea: Changing the Tide,” was chosen by the SADD National Student Leadership Council, which assists in the conference planning and implementation, making this educational experience unique because it is youth driven and youth inspired.

“We could not be more excited about the group of students joining us at this year’s conference,” said Richard Birt of New Carlisle, Ohio, the 2009-2010 SADD National Student of the Year. “Students will have the opportunity to develop life-changing peer leadership and advocacy skills, share ideas, and learn new prevention strategies that can be put into action back home in their schools and communities.”

Conference participants will attend motivational presentations, seminars, and team building activities aimed at exchanging new approaches and gathering ideas that they can share with their communities and develop into events for their local SADD chapters. Stand-up comedian Craig Tornquist will serve as the Master of Ceremonies. Keynote speakers include Nigel Wrangham and Bill Cordes, and youth will experience a riveting, original play by Tim Mogford and his youth performers entitled “A Moment’s Pause.” Wrangham will challenge students to understand the complexities of the brain and explore love, hate, memory, and addiction; he will also lead a workshop on youth activism. Cordes will combine humor and enthusiasm and draw from his extensive life experience to empower youth to become teen agents for change. Mogford’s original play, starring students and graduates, brings the worlds of performance and prevention even more closely together by drawing on the key moments in one’s life, decisions that will affect the outcome of the play and our lives; a follow-up workshop will offer concrete approaches and strategies outlined in the performance, encouraging students to take this work back home for their own use.  

The conference also includes nearly 45 workshops aimed at providing students and advisors with information about serious topics, such as underage drinking, teen violence and suicide, advocacy, driving safety, diversity, and bullying. Conference sponsors include DCH Auto Group, TOYOTA Motor Sales, USA, Inc., and Bridgestone Americas, Inc.

“We are very pleased to have our conference in this great location. There is so much to see and absorb here, and visiting Florida will be a life-expanding experience for these young people, just as the SADD National Conference will be,” said SADD Executive Director Penny Wells. “We are thrilled with this truly well-rounded, enthusiastic, and accomplished group of teens who are committed to improving the lives of their peers and to giving back to the community while they are here.”

At the June 29th “Sunset Celebration” Awards Banquet, SADD will recognize the stellar work of its most dedicated students and advisors by presenting national awards for Chapter of the Year, Activity of the Year, and Advisor of the Year. Stafford Technical Center of Rutland, Vermont, captured the honor of Chapter of the Year; Gardner South Wilmington High School of Gardner, Illinois, took the Activity of the Year Award for its “Road to Reality” project; and Gloria Tatum-Wade of Northeast Guilford High School of Greensboro, North Carolina, received high praise as Advisor of the Year.  In addition, the SADD National Board of Directors will recognize Craig Tornquist - who has spent more than 25 years influencing young people with good, clean humor - with the SADD Distinguished Service Award for his wit, creativity, and commitment to SADD as conference emcee extraordinaire for 10 years and DCH Auto Group will receive SADD’s Outstanding Contribution Award for its visionary leadership and compassionate commitment to advancing the SADD mission of promoting safe and healthy decision-making among youth.

Finally, SADD will officially induct its 2010-2011 National Student Leadership Council (SLC), including Jessica Roscoe of New Rockford, North Dakota, as the SADD National Student of the Year; Jamie Eastman of Wells River, Vermont, and Zachary Jones of Pierceton, Indiana, as members of the Executive Committee; and the following as council members: Ashley Blasi of Clarks Summit, Pennsylvania; Deanna Boucher of Lowell, Massachusetts; Jennifer Collins of Clinton, Mississippi; Logan Gerber-Chavez of Farmington, Utah; Juan Gomez of Kearny, New Jersey; and Bianca Millien of Grayson, Georgia. Ricky Birt of New Carlisle, Ohio, will serve as the Student of the Year Emeritus and Youth Advisor to the SLC.

SADD, the nation’s leading peer-to-peer youth education, prevention, and activism organization, is committed to empowering young people to lead initiatives in their schools and communities. Founded in 1981, today SADD has thousands of chapters in middle schools, high schools, and colleges. SADD highlights prevention of many destructive behaviors and attitudes that are harmful to young people, including underage drinking, other drug use, risky and impaired driving, and teen violence and suicide. More information about SADD can be found at sadd.org.


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