FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE           
June 16, 2008

CONTACT:
Stacey Hart
508-481-3568
shart@sadd.org

SADD YOUTH LEADERS COME TOGETHER TO TACKLE CRITICAL ISSUES FACING TEENS

Phoenix, Arizona –Over four days next week, hundreds of students from 27 states will have the opportunity to share, learn, and grow at the 2008 SADD (Students Against Destructive Decisions) National Conference. SADD students are committed to making teen lives safer, and they will be challenged and inspired during the 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 22-25 at the Wigwam Golf Resort in Phoenix. The conference theme, “Passion, Power, Identity – Soaring to New Heights,” was chosen by the SADD National Student Leadership Council, which assists in the conference planning and implementation.

“We have an enthusiastic and accomplished group of teens joining us at this year’s conference,” said Sasha Willingham of Russellville, Alabama, the 2007-2008 SADD National Student of the Year. “Students will have the opportunity to develop leadership 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 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. Keynote speakers include Calvin Terrell, who speaks about valuing diversity and unity building in schools throughout the United States, and John Kevin Hines, who shares his story of strength and compassion as he discusses bipolar disorder, depression, suicide, and survival.

The conference will also include more than 40 workshops aimed at providing students and advisors with information about serious topics, such as underage drinking, teen violence and suicide, driving safety, diversity, and bullying. Conference sponsors include Arizona Governor’s Office of Highway Safety, 1 2 1 Direct Response, DCH Auto Group, Safeway, Guideline, Arizona Department of Public Safety, and Begam, Lewis & Marks.

“We could not be more excited about the group of students joining us this year,” said Penny Wells, SADD president and executive director. “These student leaders understand better than anyone the increasing challenges facing today’s teens. They are committed to improving the lives of their peers and to giving back to the community while in Phoenix.”

Highlights of the conference include these:

  • Community-Service Project – Sunday, June 22, 7:30 a.m. – 2 p.m.
    More than 150 conference participants will arrive in Phoenix a day early at their own expense to participate in local community-service projects benefiting two schools. Youth leaders will give back to other students by cleaning, painting, and refreshing classrooms at the T.J. Pappas Elementary and Garcia Elementary schools. In addition, donations from a SADD-sponsored school supplies drive will benefit local school children in need.

  • Opening Ceremonies – Sunday, June 22, 7 – 8 p.m.
    SADD youth and advisors from 27 states will gather to officially kick off the conference.

  • Rawhide Western Town – Monday, June 23, 4 – 10 p.m.
    Conference participants will spend an evening in the 1880s Western Town featuring a variety of activities, including a train ride, shootin’ gallery, gold panning, mechanical bull, petting ranch, and stage coach tour.

  • SADD Awards Banquet – Tuesday, June 24, 6:30 – 8:30 p.m.
    SADD will recognize the stellar work of its most dedicated students and advisors by presenting national awards for Activity of the Year, Chapter of the Year, and Advisor of the Year. Sharon Sikora of Glendale, Arizona, will be recognized for a lifetime of courage, passion, and activism with the SADD Lifetime Achievement Award. Jim Walker of Arizona will be given the award for Excellence in Community Service. Two awards for Excellence in Community Education will be presented to Ken Sharp of the “Ridin’ Dirty” radio show on KFNX in Phoenix and to CS Construction of Arizona, which sponsors the show. In addition, SADD will officially induct its 2008-2009 National Student Leadership Council.

  • Closing Ceremonies – Wednesday, June 25, 9:45 – 11:45 a.m.
    Matt Bellace, a youth motivational speaker and comedian who encourages more than 100,000 students each year to pursue natural highs and make healthy choices, will be the keynote speaker.

For more than 27 years, SADD (Students Against Destructive Decisions) has been committed to empowering young people to lead education and prevention initiatives in their schools and communities. Founded as Students Against Driving Drunk in 1981, SADD has become the nation’s preeminent peer-to-peer youth education, prevention, and activism organization, with nearly 10,000 chapters in middle schools, high schools, and colleges nationwide. SADD now highlights prevention of many destructive behaviors that are harmful to young people, including underage drinking, substance abuse, risky and impaired driving, and teen violence and suicide.

For more information about SADD, visit sadd.org. For more information about the 2008 SADD National Conference, contact Communications Coordinator Stacey Hart at 508-481-3568 or shart@sadd.org.

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