Mary Jo Leonard
History of S.A.D.D.
For 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 dominant 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 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 underage drinking, substance abuse, impaired driving, violence, and suicide.
SADD’s unique approach involves young people delivering education and prevention messages to their peers through school- and communitywide 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.
Located in Marlborough, Massachusetts, the national office of SADD, Inc. supports the growth and development of SADD chapters across the country and promotes awareness of youth issues in the population at large. SADD National assists chapters via a network of state coordinators funded through government or charitable organizations to deliver education and prevention materials and programming to youth. SADD National also distributes a newsletter and program information, hosts a Web site, runs a national conference, conducts national research on teen attitudes and behaviors, sponsors a Student Leadership Council and Student of the Year, oversees use of the SADD name and mark, and raises funds for dissemination of information and programming.
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.