EmPoWERing Youth

Empower serves youth

EmPoWER Somerset believes that youth must have a voice in the conversations and decision making that affects them – nothing about them without them! Their energy and ideas are invaluable assets. EmPoWER Somerset offers several opportunities for young people to get involved, form friendships and leadership skills, and make a difference in their communities.


Botvin Life Skills

Botvin Life Skills is an evidence-based curriculum facilitated with elementary and middle school students that teachs substance misuse and violence prevention through comprehensive, dynamic, and developmentally appropriate lessons. This highly effective curriculum has been proven to help increase self-esteem, develop healthy attitudes, and improve their knowledge of essential life skills – all of which promote healthy and positive personal development and mental health. In addition to helping kids resist drug, alcohol, and tobacco use, the middle school program also effectively supports the reduction of violence and other high-risk behaviors. The program is aligned to Social-Emotional Learning standards.

For more information on this program, please contact Cheryl Rinaldi

Site-empowering thumbnails (4)

Footprints for Life™

Footprints for Life™ is designed to help second and third grade students build a strong foundation of life skills rooted in key social competencies. The curriculum-based program focuses on planning and decision-making, cultural competence, and interpersonal skills, such as handling peer pressure and resolving conflicts peacefully. Information on tobacco and alcohol is provided within the context of refusal skills, as are discussions about seeking help from caring and supportive adults when confronted with situations that make the child feel inadequate or fearful. The program is delivered over six one-hour sessions.

For more information on this program, please contact Cheryl Rinaldi.

happy healthy me

Happy Healthy Me

Happy Healthy Me, based on the evidence-based Dare To Be You curriculum, is a program for preschool and kindergarten age children designed to enhance self-esteem, communication, and problem-solving skills. It is delivered over six 45-minute sessions in a classroom setting.

For more information on this program, please contact Cheryl Rinaldi.



PreVenture is an evidence based prevention program that uses personality targeted interventions to promote mental health, skill development, and delay youth substance use. It is designed to help at-risk youth learn useful coping skills, set long term goals, and channel their personality towards achieving them. Studies have shown the program has helped to reduce alcohol use and odds of binge drinking, delay initiation and frequency of cannabis use, and reduce risk for mental health problems, conduct problems, and drug use. PreVenture is developed for youth ages 12-17 into two 90-minute sessions and can be implemented in school/non-school and online settings.
For more information on this program, please contact Cheryl Pignatelli.

SBIRT Training

Screening, Brief Intervention, and Referral to Treatment (SBIRT) is a comprehensive, integrated, public health approach to the delivery of early intervention and treatment services for persons with substance use disorders, as well as those who are at risk of developing these disorders. There are a set of screening tools used to identify the youth who may be at risk of substance abuse. EmPoWER Somerset provides SBIRT trainings that can be offered in person, virtually live or as a recording. Through these trainings you will learn how to screen a youth using one of the screening tools, how to implement a brief intervention, and when it is needed to refer a youth for further treatment. For more information, please contact Jennifer Gomez.

SCC thumbnail


Sobertruth4youth.org was created to enhance access to a series of short documentaries on substance abuse prevention developed by the Safe Communities Coalition. The videos were compiled into an educational portal. Each video is paired with a quiz and a certificate of completion with a unique user code is generated once the quiz questions are completed 100% correctly. The website includes the following videos:

  • His, Hers, the Truth: Marijuana’s Overlooked Consequences
  • Pills 2 Heroin
  • In A Split Second
  • Fentanyl Factor
  • Don’t Be A Friend, Be A Parent*

*All videos were created by the coalition except “Don’t Be A Friend, Be A Parent.”


We're Not Buying It 2.0

We’re Not Buying It 2.0 (WNBI 2.0) is designed to reduce early first use of alcohol, marijuana, prescription drugs, and over-the-counter medications, as well as the initiation of bullying/cyber-bullying among middle school age youth in grades 6 through 8. The program recognizes that the media is a significant source of misinformation for young people about these topics. Unlike traditional media literacy programs, which focus on print advertisements, WNBI 2.0 explores the indirect marketing messages directed at youth through music, television, film, and social media. With a proper understanding of the marketing directed toward them, students learn how to think critically about those messages and make decisions based on facts. The program is delivered over six one-hour sessions.

For more information on this program, please contact Cheryl Rinaldi.

Site-empowering thumbnails (6)

Youth Advisory Board

Empowering Youth page

EmPoWER Youth Advisory Board (YAB) provides teens with opportunities for leadership at the county, regional, and state level. This youth-led group aims to make communities safer by focusing on mental health, tobacco use prevention, drug misuse prevention, and suicide prevention. Members participate in many campaigns and events, including National Night Out, Incorruptible.Us, Safe Communities Coalition, and Sticker Shock. EmPoWER YAB gives youth opportunities to make a change in their communities. It encourages youth to bring new ideas to the table while planning, promoting, and implementing programs and services. Youth have the opportunity  to discuss current events, talk to professionals in the field, and be the voice of their generation. 

EmPoWER YAB has the opportunity to send one youth representative to the Lindsey Meyer Teen Institute Summer Leadership Conference. The conference is an opportunity for high school students from throughout New Jersey to come together for a week to learn new concepts, develop confidence in themselves and their abilities, and gain the tools and skills necessary to create a positive impact in their schools and communities.

For more information on this program, please contact Katie Hoben and Aarti Patel or visit the Youth Leadership section of our website.

youth camp

Youth Leadership Camp

Empowering Youth page

EmPoWER Somerset collaborates each year with our School Health partner in the Northern region, The Center for Prevention in Counseling, to present a life changing opportunity to students in middle and high school to be a part of Youth Leadership Camping Weekend that focuses on growth and bonding both as members of team and individually as leaders. The dynamic reinforces the importance of being stakeholders in each other’s lives. This is truly a unique and impactful experience for all students involved. Students participate in activities such as archery, boating, tie dye, and small group workshops and activities that focus on healthy decision making, leadership skills, being an upstander, and increasing your social-emotional tool kit.

For more information on this program, please contact Katie Hoben and Aarti Patel.