Mt Hope students have a day on Capitol Hill

A delegation of school and community prevention advocates travel to Washington, DC to meet with congressional delegation

By Christy Nadalin
Posted 2/13/20

The impeachment proceedings weren’t the only thing happening in Washintgton, DC last week. A local group, including representatives from Mt. Hope High School’s STAAND (Students Taking …

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Mt Hope students have a day on Capitol Hill

A delegation of school and community prevention advocates travel to Washington, DC to meet with congressional delegation

Posted

The impeachment proceedings weren’t the only thing happening in Washintgton, DC last week. A local group, including representatives from Mt. Hope High School’s STAAND (Students Taking Action Against Negative Decisions) and the East Bay Prevention Coalition, headed south to take part in the Community Anti-Drug Coalitions of America (CADCA) leadership forum.

CADCA is a national organization that represents more than 5,000 community coalitions working to prevent substance misuse. The mission of CADCA is to strengthen the capacity of community coalitions to create and maintain safe, healthy and drug-free communities.

“It’s a week-long forum that covers any and all aspects of prevention, from getting your message out, to how to run events, and your hometown coalition,” said STAAND president Sean Palumbo. “We went for the learning opportunity but also for Capitol Hill Day, when we got to sit down with Senators Jack Reed and Sheldon Whitehouse and Rep. David Cicilline to discuss prevention efforts in the state, and what we need from them.”

Sean, a senior, was jointed by fellow Mt. Hope students Marissa Astrologo and Ellie Pinheiro, both juniors, as well as Kerri Sousa, STAAND’s parent advisor. Also attending were East Bay Prevention Coalition members Barbara Palumbo and Sgt. Mike Viera of the Bristol Police Department.

It was vote day for the impeachment trial, so the students met with Senators Reed and Whitehouse during a break in the proceedings.

They were able to spend more time with members of David Cicilline’s staff, an opportunity Sean found especially rewarding.

“I really enjoyed meeting privately with David Cicilline’s staff to talk specifically about our efforts here in the East Bay and what we are looking for,” said Sean, who is looking forward to studying Political Science and Public Administration in college next year. “It was great communicating with the people who make decisions about where we live.”

Junior Ellie Pinheiro agreed. “It was nice to speak with them about problems that happen locally,” she said. “Adults don’t always have the whole picture or know how to target youth, and I think in order to make a difference they need to know more about these topics.”

“CADCA was an experience that I will never forget,” Ellie said. “It teaches leadership, prevention and awareness. You meet other youth who are just as passionate about prevention, and make many new friendships and learn many new things.”

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