The Youth Community Coalition (YC2) is a network of over 70 organizations and individuals whose goal is to help youth develop into productive and self-sufficient citizens by working together to decrease substance abuse and promote healthy behaviors among the youth in Boone County. YC2 promotes community collaboration around issues concerning healthy choices, positive activities, education, employment, service, and the prevention of substance abuse. Ultimately our coalition works to build the capacity of each of its members, to do their amazing work for youth in our community even better.
In 2014, the coalition helped to achieve some important outcomes for our community to protect youth from proposed policies that could have risked higher incidents of substance use by youth in our area. In particular, YC2 organized with other substance abuse prevention agencies to educate the public and our elected officials on proposed ordinances to decriminalize the cultivation of marijuana and to raise the legal age of purchase for tobacco and e-cigarettes. Our coordinated efforts were significant in defeating the proposed marijuana ordinances and in enacting laws to raise the legal age to purchase tobacco and e-cigarettes in Columbia.
In addition to our activism with respect to local laws, the coalition also organized or participated in numerous other initiatives to prevent substance use and abuse in our communities. Specifically, YC2 helped organized the county Rx drug take back for our county, continued support of compliance checks for area restaurants and bars, sponsored activities to educate parents about the risks of social hosting, participated in health fairs at the local high schools, and worked with MU Wellness Resource Center to organize two Alcohol Summits attended by local businesses, higher education, agencies and individuals alike which assessed the most pertinent issues our community faces regarding alcohol use by youth and young adults.
Another way YC2 seeks to positively impact the youth community is with the afterschool and youth leadership programs the coalition sponsors with partner organizations. As a 21st Century Community Learning Center grant recipient, YC2 works with four afterschool sites to provide quality after school programs that are helping to improve academic success for nearly 300 youth in Columbia. The Teen Outreach Program (TOP) is a leadership training program that works with at-risk high school teens providing education, leadership and community service training. Similarly, Helping Our Peers Everywhere (HOPE) is a peer leadership program working with high school teens on prevention of substance abuse, bullying and other teen issues with the intention of presenting the information learned to elementary, middle, and other high school students. Helping youth achieve greater success in school and in the community is an important pillar of the YC2 mission to ensure all our children develop into productive and self-sufficient citizens.