Safe Communities Youth Attend National Youth Leadership Initiative

The teen members of the Safe Communities Youth Coalition (YC) are already leaders and role models in their communities. To prepare them to become leaders as adults, many of them attended a free, two-day National Youth Leadership Initiative (NYLI), on June 28 and 29 held at the Somerville Elks Lodge in Somerset County.

NYLI is a CADCA (Community Anti-Drug Coalitions of America) initiative, founded on the philosophy of youth-led, adult-guided skill-building and problem-solving techniques. This event was the first NYLI training of its kind in New Jersey and was open to Hunterdon and Somerset county high school students. It was well supported with over 100 student attendees.

"The event was held to enhance youth-led community level change with the intention of directly impacting underage drinking and substance use," said Amy Menes, Youth Leader for the Hunterdon County Youth Coalition. This event was spearheaded by the Safe Communities Coalition of Hunterdon/Somerset, and supported by internationally renowned coalition organization, CADCA, who provided a team of trainers for the conference. Menes added "Participants of the NYLI event gained leadership and team-building skills, identified local conditions and created initiatives to resolve substance-related concerns in their community." Attendees received a certificate of completion for their efforts as well as connections to get involved with local groups, including the Safe Communities Youth Coalition, to continue their work.

Manny Kyei, Youth Leader for the Somerset County YOUth Coalition, added "I was really impressed with the numerous possible interventions that these students came up with. It just shows that we need to listen to them more if we want to make a significant impact in our communities."

The mission of the YC is to reduce underage drinking and substance use in Hunterdon and Somerset counties by participating in prevention initiatives, volunteer activities, and promoting a substance-free lifestyle. YC teens work alongside the adults of the Safe Communities Coalition, whose members include parents, school officials, faith leaders, young adults, legislators, law enforcement, and other community leaders, as they gain networking skills and learn strategies to enact positive change to maintain the quality of life in their respective counties.

The Safe Communities Youth Coalition of Hunterdon County (HCYC) is open to all Hunterdon County high school students. Current members are students from Hunterdon Central, North Hunterdon, Del Val, Voorhees and Mount Saint Mary's. New members are always welcome. To join HCYC, please contact Youth Leader, Amy Menes on Remind App, or by email at To keep up with these inspiring teens and events, make sure to follow Hunterdon County's Youth Coalition on Instagram @HCYC_NJ, and join the Remind App (for safe text and email communications) @joinHCYC.

The Safe Communities YOUth Coalition of Somerset County (SCYC) is open to all Somerset County high school students. Current members are students from Bridgewater-Raritan, Bound Brook, Franklin, Hillsborough, Montgomery, Manville, North Plainfield, Somerset Vo-Tech, and Mount Saint Mary's. New members are always welcome. To join SCYC, please contact Youth Leader, Manny Kyei, at 908-722-4900 or by email at

For more information, please visit, or call 908-782-3909.

Thank You To Our Conference Sponsors!

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