Submitted by Melony Myers Ison
KINGSPORT — Even as the pandemic creates obstacles, New Vision Youth is finding new ways and new opportunities to work to better the community.
Recently, members of New Vision Youth have been busy providing education to older people in the community through a pilot project made possible by a grant from AveNew, a prevention program of United Way of Greater Kingsport. The unique program brings together young people and older adults. Youth, trained in safe medication practices by the Sullivan County Anti-Drug Coalition (SCAD), provide information, medication lock boxes and more at the new Senior Center at Lynn Garden Community Center, Kingsport Senior Center and at the Kitchen of Hope.
Youth train elders to count medications, lock medications away for safe keeping, and then dispose of unused or expired medications. These three steps are essential to ensure the safety of prescription drugs and help prevent addiction. The members of New Vision Youth have been wonderful in carrying this message to older people in the area.
Substance abuse is a topic they have addressed time and again through their volunteer efforts and community service projects. In fact, they have achieved many goals and received many awards for their efforts.
In the summer of 2021, young members of New Vision attended the Tennessee Teens Institute (TTI) at the University of Tennessee Martin. The five-day Youth Leadership and Prevention Camp is sponsored by the Jackson Area Council on Alcoholism and Drug Dependency. Held annually, the statewide conference brings together more than 400 teens to help them learn how to deal with issues such as peer pressure, bullying, violence, suicide, teen pregnancy , adolescent health and substance abuse.
The group has also partnered with the Sullivan County Regional Health Department for Project Red Sand, designed to raise awareness about preventing human trafficking.
In 2019, New Vision Youth participated in tobacco prevention advocacy with state legislators by attending a “Day on the Hill” session with the SCAD Coalition. Legislative Day was an opportunity for young people to meet their local representatives and have conversations about what matters to young people and protecting the community from substance abuse.
Among other accomplishments, New Vision Youth created and won the logo contest for TN Strong, the Tennessee Department of Health’s youth smoking prevention initiative in 2018. They created a video about not use drugs and live a healthy life, which won first place in a statewide survey. competition for Drug Free Tennessee.
The group’s creativity does not stop at video productions. New Vision also came up with a smoking prevention song, which they’ve since turned into a COVID prevention song they sing at teen conferences.
The members of New Vision Youth, under the leadership of Johnnie Mae Swagerty, continue to improve the community and make a difference in the lives of many young people.