Through a grant from the Maine Bureau of Highway Safety, Students Against Destructive Decisions received nearly $150,000 to establish programming across the state, educating youth and families on highway safety, underage drinking, and other youth safety messaging.

“We are excited to expand our state’s current programming and provide our residents with all of the benefits that a partnership with SADD has to offer,” said Lauren V. Stewart, director of Maine’s Bureau of Highway Safety, according to a news release from the Augusta-based bureau. “Our goal is to create a peer-to-peer infrastructure of support, guidance and education with a focus on safe-driving behavior. Through our funding, SADD will work to establish chapters across the state, host teen traffic safety events, and be an invaluable resource to our state’s youth.”

For 40 years, the organization has worked to empower teens, engage parents, mobilize communities, and change lives around the issues of traffic safety, substance abuse, and personal health and safety. Through a national network of chapters in middle schools, high schools and colleges, it equips students with the resources they need to advocate for change on their campuses and in their communities.

The grant also helped to fund the creation of a new position, a dedicated state coordinator to oversee the implementation of programming and handle community outreach. Christina Schechtman, a mental health and community relations professional, brings years of experience working with youth to the role. Before joining the organization, Schechtman worked in communications, providing essential messaging for community organizations and educational settings. She received her master’s degree in community counseling and has worked with youth as a prevention educator and counselor.

“SADD brings a lot of unique opportunities for its student members, giving them the chance to socialize virtually during these isolating times, participate in scholarship challenges with monetary prizes, and fulfill community-service-hour requirements,” said Schechtman, according to the release. “SADD is also a proud certifying partner of the Presidential Volunteer Service Award, which means the work our members do could get them recognized by the President!”

Memberships are currently free with the organization and students are welcome to join with or without an official chapter in their schools. Individuals seeking membership can now join and be part of the state’s virtual chapter.

To find out more about its programming or to enroll a student or child, visit sadd.org.

 

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