YouthThink came into existence in 2001 with the assistance of a federal Drug Free Communities grant. The mission of the organization is to prevent the use of alcohol, tobacco and other drugs among the county’s youth population and to build a coalition of stakeholders who are committed to that cause.
At first, YouthThink focused their prevention efforts on providing services and/or activities for youth. The belief was that the busier we keep our children the less time they will have to be involved in risky behaviors. Early on, we celebrated some successes, but the real behavior and community norm changes that we wanted to realize were not occurring. YouthThink then changed its focus from the individual to the risk and protective factors that surround our children. We began seeing the need for positive attachments. At this point, Dr. Ann Corwin became one of YouthThink’s key mentors.
Through Dr. Corwin’s help, our coalition began to realize we were not addressing the root causes that answered the question of why our youth were turning to unhealthy behaviors. We were not aware of the biological and psychological fact that feelings come before behaviors. Our introduction to emotional literacy, through the pocket Pull of Feelings (PPF) process, has been a turning point in our coalition’s mission and vision.
Many in our group were not even familiar with the term emotional literacy, much less able to grasp it’s value. The PFF process clearly defined the concepts of emotional literacy into easily understood ideas and manageable tools.