Youth Leadership Council

“Youth comes but once in a lifetime.”    

Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

What is the Youth Leadership Council?

Our goal as a community Prevention Coalition is to focus our efforts on empowering our county’s youth to recognize needs within their schools and neighborhoods. The Leadership Council is a place where youth are empowered and take preventative action by breaking down barriers that prevent youth from making healthy choices, good decisions, and practice safe behaviors. Simply put, we want to help our youth make positive change! For this reason, we are committed to supporting the initiatives set forth by our county’s youth as they recognize and prioritize needs from their unique community perspective/lens. A benefit of our robust network of community advocates is that we are able to elevate our youth’s concerns and accomplishments at a level where their voices can be heard and acknowledged by our community stakeholders and leaders across the state. The Youth Leadership Council will be a platform for youth to begin a transformation journey with our community that will educate, train, and engage them in understanding how and why preventative action can create population-wide impact!

Interested in Applying or Learning More?

If you are a high school student from Prince William County Public Schools and you want to be a part of this awesome opportunity to create a lasting, positive impact and change the status quo in your school and community – don’t wait to let us know! Fill out the Application below to let us know that you are interested in joining the team! The deadline for applications is October 15, 2021. Applicants will receive confirmation emails from and Prince William County Community Services and members of the Prevention Coalition of Greater Prince William will hold virtual interviews with all applicants.

There are no minimum GPA requirements needed to be a member on the council. We’re looking for youth leaders, quiet and loud, who are passionate about preventing negative health outcomes and substance use among your peers such as alcohol, tobacco, and other drugs.

What to Expect?


Environmental Approach to Prevention

Research shows that efforts to re-design environmental community conditions create sustainable, positive impact in the economic, social and physical environments in which people live, work and play. These environments have a major influence on individual behaviors, community norms, and ultimately, population-wide health and safety. Environmental change is accomplished and upheld through policy change, promoting culture and equality, and improving structures and systems that support healthy decisions and behaviors.

Capacity Building

Capacity building involves gaining an array of resources needed to effectively respond to local problems. This council serves as a platform to help our youth find and develop our local resources, engage key stakeholders, raise community awareness, and increase their ability to act on identified needs.

Strategic Prevention Framework

The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) created the Strategic Prevention Framework to focus on reducing community risks and enhancing protective factors to decrease substance use behaviors at the population level. This data-driven framework consists of five steps for community change with a focus on sustainability and cultural competence. These five steps include assessment, capacity building, planning, implementation, and evaluation.

Intergenerational Approach to Community Engagement

Intergenerational learning and practice aims to bring
people together from all walks of life through purposeful, mutually
beneficial platforms that promote community cohesiveness,
greater understanding, respect, and empowerment
between generations. Intergenerational partnerships are proven to strengthen resources and build confidence, skills, and knowledge as a promised outcome of reciprocal learning relationships.


Discussions with Community Leaders and County Officials

Starting January 2021

With training and preparation, youth council members will have the opportunity to engage in one-on-one discussions with community leaders such as Congressman Gerry Connolly and Attorney General Mark Herring to discuss local concerns and initiatives pertaining to youth substance use prevention and mental health awareness.

YADAPP Conference

October 2021

YADAPP is for high school students (rising grades 9–12) who are leaders in their school or community and are interested in preventing substance use among their peers. Council members will have the opportunity to attend YADAPP as a group plus an Adult Sponsor where they will develop a STAN-Plan to create and guide change in their home communities!

Lock and Talk Campaign

2012 – Present

Lock and Talk is part of a comprehensive approach to suicide prevention in the Commonwealth of Virginia and being implemented by the Wellness, Health Promotion and Prevention program of Prince William CSB. It is designed to prevent suicides by restricting access to firearms and poisons during a mental health crisis. Council members will be invited to join this initiative to see prevention at work in our community first-hand.

Education and Training

Starting January 2021

In an effort to build capacity and learn foundational prevention techniques and strategies, council members will be provided with opportunities for furthering education and training that will help launch their efforts and chosen initiatives into the community with promising success! Evidence-based programs such as “Taking Down Tobacco” will provide our youth with the tools they need to make their voice heard at the local, regional, and state levels!


2015 – Present

Council Youth will get first hand exposure to environmental prevention strategies at work by getting an inside look at county efforts such as Counter Tools which is an evidence-based model of change to help state and local-level partners reduce the impact of products that harm the health of individuals and communities.

Project Sticker Shock

Starting April 2021

Project Sticker Shock is designed to reach adults who might purchase alcohol legally and provide it to minors. Stickers warning about the penalties for furnishing alcohol to minors are placed on all multi-packs of beer, alco-pops, and other alcohol products that might appeal to underage drinkers. Council members will have the chance to interact with local businesses and watch the power of prevention messaging become a protective factor for substance misuse.

Not Sure Yet? Fill out our Interest Survey to learn more!

Heather Martinsen, Coalition Facilitator