Our Longstanding History of Youth Empowerment
For more than 30 years, SADD has been committed to empowering young people to lead education and prevention initiatives in their schools and communities. Founded as Students Against Driving Drunk in 1981 in Wayland, Massachusetts, SADD has grown to become the nation’s leading peer-to-peer youth education and prevention organization with thousands of chapters in middle schools, high schools, and colleges. In 1997, in response to requests from SADD students themselves, SADD expanded its mission and its name and now sponsors chapters called Students Against Destructive Decisions. SADD continues to endorse a firm “No Use” message related to use of alcohol and other drugs. With its expanded focus, SADD now highlights prevention of all destructive behaviors and attitudes that are harmful to young people, including traffic safety, substance abuse, and an array of issues dealing with personal health and safety.
One thing that has always remained a constant is SADD’s unique and effective approach that involves young people delivering education and prevention messages to their peers through school and community-wide activities and campaigns responsive to the needs of their particular locations. Projects may include peer-led classes and theme-focused forums, teen workshops, conferences and rallies, prevention education and leadership training, awareness-raising activities, and legislative work. Independent studies have shown that students in schools with an established SADD chapter are more aware of and informed about the risks of underage drinking, other drug use, and impaired driving. Students in schools with a SADD chapter are also more likely to hold attitudes reflecting positive reasons not to use alcohol.
Through the years, SADD National has worked with many federal and state agencies and other nonprofit groups and foundations to capitalize on the energy and resources of SADD chapters. Through these joint efforts, SADD has built strong leadership among adolescents, mobilized statewide collaboration with community partners, fostered awareness of and support for youth initiatives, and organized the efforts of those beyond the SADD chapters to promote youth health and safety to the entire nation.
As SADD leadership looks forward and sets out on an ambitious five-year strategic plan, their ultimate goal is to increase the number of teens that get to experience the power of SADD to tens of millions.