Even though things have gotten better in many ways, 2021 is still a year that has been highly characterized by the Covid-19 pandemic. Nevertheless, we have stayed true to our vision of creating a world where children and young people are empowered to make healthy decisions and live drug-free, by adapting and doing our very best with the resources available during these challenging times.
Before we have a look at some of our favorite memories from this year, we would like to extend our greatest appreciation for your support during 2021. Together we empower young people to live healthy and productive lives, free of drugs. Thank you!
The year started off great as the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) launched their initiative “Operation Engage”. This initiative encourages partnerships with healthcare professionals, as well as engagement with community and social service organizations best positioned to provide long-term assistance and support for building drug-free communities.
Mentor USA is incredibly proud to be part of this important initiative and look forward to continuing our work reaching even more youth in the United States through the “Operation Engage” initiative.
In March, we arranged a youth-led webinar together with Dr. Ruben Baler, Scientist on the Neurobiology of Drug Abuse & Addiction at the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA), where the developing brain and the importance of adolescent substance use prevention were discussed.
Some of the important questions that Dr. Baler answered were: At what age should you start talking with your kids about drugs and alcohol? Why is it more dangerous for youth to experiment with drugs? Is vaping addictive? And is marijuana really harmful? Watch the full webinar above!
The first National Take Back Day of the year was held in April and 839,543 (420 tons) of medication was brought in and safely disposed! This initiative by the DEA promotes safe disposal of unused and/or expired medicine by opening free collection sites all over the country. The importance of this is great, as these pills may otherwise cause needless harm to people in your household, especially children and youths. Visit www.takebackday.dea.gov to learn more.
During May we launched our annual 24-hour “Mentor May Campaign” which raised $11,531! Thank you to all our generous constituents who contributed to these important funds that help us in the pursuit of inspiring and empowering young people to live healthy lives, free of drugs. We were also honored to once again have our Ambassador H.H. Princess Sora Saud join us and support this fundraising campaign, thank you!
The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Administration (SAMHSA) awarded Mentor USA with the “Communities Talk” Stipend to further the mission of spreading essential facts about substance and alcohol use while promoting healthy living. Just recently, these funds supported our webinar “Living the Example in the 21st century” where we spoke about the current climate among teens, social-media-usage, peer pressure, underage drinking and youth substance usage, stress, mental health, and how to inspire and set a good example for your peers, or as a mentor. Watch the full webinar here.
Mentor USA’s Youth Advisory Committee held their first in-person meeting this summer since the launch of the committee in October 2020. The Covid-19 pandemic had restricted them from in-person meetings, so it was an especially exciting time when they held their first meeting in-person in Washington, D.C. Mentor USA’s President and CEO, Gudrun Giddings, also participated in the meeting and was excited to finally be able to interact in-person and see some of the Youth Advisory Committee members again.
During August we were grateful to receive a Covid-19 relief fund from our long-term partner Capital Group, who recognized how the pandemic had affected their non-profit partners and decided to grant them additional support. Thank you once again, Capital Group, for supporting us and investing in the community and our youth!
Our fifth edition of the “Living the Example” National Video Contest was launched and there is still time to participate! Submissions close on January 17th, 2022.
This contest serves to highlight all of the amazing things young people are doing, as well as celebrate and empower youth across the U.S. to stay drug-free by providing a powerful platform to speak up and out against drugs and promote healthy living. Any drug-free positive activity that a young person participates in is a way of “living the example” and through this contest, we want to let them showcase how they are doing just that, and making a difference in their community.
Learn more about the contest and the requirements onwww.livingtheexample.org/contest
Together with the Swedish American Chamber of Commerce – Los Angeles, we arranged a fantastic Halloween Celebration on the rooftop at the Santa Monica Mall. A spooky evening filled with activities, friends, and of course a lot of Halloween candy! Read more about the event here.
We celebrated all kinds of giving and kindness during “Giving Tuesday”. A day where generosity is unleashed all over the world in pursuit of doing good and helping others! No matter if you made someone smile, helped a neighbor out, advocated for a cause you believe in, or shared some of what you have with those in need – thank you for participating and being a part of creating a more generous and kind world!
During December we were very excited to invite all of you to our webinar called “Living the Example in the 21st century”. Together with our panel consisting of Jeremy Dawidowicz (President of our Youth Advisory Committee), Gail Aitor (Creator of the podcast “Teenager Therapy” and winner of the 2019 LTE Video Contest), and Gezim Gashi (Mentor USA’s Program Director) we had an insightful conversation regarding some challenges today’s youth face, and how to “live the example”. We touched on subjects such as peer pressure, social media usage, underage drinking, youth substance use, mental health, and much more. Watch the full recording of the webinar above.