Teaming Up With Kent County Prevention Coalition for Above the Influence Youth Summit

On April 27th, we teamed up with the Kent County Prevention Coalition (KCPC) for the first ever Kent County Above the Influence (ATI) “Live Out Loud: Dream IT, Believe IT, Achieve IT” Youth Summit. This two-day summit brought together more than 650 middle and high school students from across the Kent County, Michigan, area to engage youth in dialogue about negative influences, including drugs and alcohol. 

During the summit, youth joined group discussions and activities designed to challenge them to think critically about the pressures they face to use drugs and alcohol.  We were pleased to have the opportunity to present an award to one of the students in attendance, Thalia Vega, who participated in the summit’s “Be It” challenge.  Thalia’s slogan, “Let your heart do the speaking,” has been copied on billboards throughout the Grand Rapids area and exemplifies the creativity local and community partners put into the Above the Influence campaign.

Deputy Director of State, Local, and Tribal Affairs Benjamin Tucker, provided remarks and welcomed conference attendees.  Deputy Director Tucker was also featured on ABC’s WZZM 13in Grand Rapids, PBS’s WGVU Radio, CBS’s WWMT, Mlive, and Fox 17.

In the words of Shannon Cohen, Coordinator of the Kent County Prevention Coalition, “This conference really gotour youth excited about making positive choices. This isn’t your grandfather’s typical ‘drugs are bad!’ lecture; it’s about giving teens something to walk away with on a more personal level.” To learn more about the Above the Influence campaign and partners, please visit

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