Six area students presented and participated at this week’s Statewide Summit hosted by Texans Standing Tall, a statewide initiative focused on substance abuse prevention to create healthier and safer communities.  

According to a press release, Samuel Albrecht (Broaddus High School - not pictured), Emily Hottman (Huntington High School - middle), Adam Concha (Diboll High School - far right), Katherine Turner (University of Houston, Lufkin - 2nd from left), Amy Tang (Lufkin High School - 2nd from right), and Lauren Oliver (Zavalla High School - far left) are all members of the nonprofit organization’s Youth Leadership Council (YLC), which is currently composed of 18 members ages 15-20 from across Texas who are committed to shaping a healthier future in which youth alcohol, tobacco, and other drug use have no place.

The members of the YLC spent Wednesday and Thursday in Austin at the Summit, performing a variety of tasks. Most notably, Turner, Tang, and Concha served as presenters during a breakout session, titled “Alcohol and College Life: Perspectives from Students.”

“The young people who worked and presented at this year’s Summit are a testament to the power of youth-adult partnerships,” said Nicole Holt, CEO of Texans Standing Tall. “We are confident the opportunities we create for our young leaders today will result in a long-term commitment to prevention work and civic engagement that makes their communities healthier and safer.”

Underage age alcohol consumption is a significant safety issue for Texas youth. In Texas, the average age youth report drinking their first alcoholic beverage is age 12.6, which is also the average age of a seventh grader. In fact, according to the 2016 Texas School Survey, more than half (53 percent) of Texas middle and high school students have used alcohol at least once in their lifetime and nearly one-third (29 percent) of students had consumed alcohol in the previous month.

According to the Texas Department of Transportation, in 2016, 29% of drivers in alcohol-related crashes were age 25 or under, and six percent of all DUI drivers in fatal crashes were under the age of 21. Texas Department of Public Safety data indicate that 20-24-year-olds accounted for 19% of all DUI arrests. Eighteen percent of Texas college students report driving after drinking at least once a month.

YLC members are selected annually from a statewide pool of qualified candidates and serve one-year terms on the Council. Throughout the year, they receive extensive training and new opportunities to develop their skills as prevention advocates and community leaders.