Faith Leaders Committing to Create a Healthy Helena

• Youth Connections’ Take REAL Action Forum

• Thursday, February 28, from 9am-3:30pm

• Carroll College Campus Center

HELENA - Youth Connections is hosting the Take REAL Action Forum to educate faith leaders and concerned community members on national and local drug trends, drug prevention, trauma and resilience, and resources and programs available in the Greater Helena area.

On Thursday, February 28 from 9am-3:30pm at the Carroll College Campus Center, local speakers and national speaker, Andy Duran, will share insight into how faith communities can help prevent substance abuse and support those in recovery. This Forum is a part of Youth Connections’ REAL Community Project where REAL stands for Referrals, Education, Action Love, with this same mission. According to How to Raise a Drug Free Kid by Joseph A. Califano, Jr. “Religious organizations can play a significant role in preventing substance abuse and supporting substance abuse treatment in their communities.”

The purpose of the Take REAL Action Forum and the entire REAL Community Project is to create a safer and healthier environment for youth and families by reducing drug use and abuse. In addition, it will help faith leaders use their influence to make a greater impact in the community. There is more information about the Forum and the entire REAL Community Project at

About Youth Connections: Youth Connections (YC) cares about Helena’s future. YC focuses on preventing and reducing substance abuse and violence, while enhancing social, emotional, and mental health supports for Helena’s youth. With the combined efforts of coalition members – consisting of parents, educators, youth-serving organizations, church and business leaders - YC is building a better Helena by providing valuable, evidence-based programs, services, and activities to help youth and families thrive.

About Andy Duran: Andy Duran is the Executive Director of Linking Efforts Against Drugs (LEAD) - a drug prevention organization based in Lake Forest, IL. Andy blends his coalition and prevention work with more than 10 years of experience in youth leadership development. In addition to working for years as a Youth Minister in the Archdiocese of Chicago, he also served as the Executive Director of the Peacebuilders Initiative - a dynamic and unique leadership development program at Catholic Theological Union that trains young leaders for ministry. Andy is also the founder of Camp Hope, a recreational summer camp for children and teens with disabilities. Over the past 2 years, Andy has spoken in more than 20 states in the areas of youth development, drug prevention, social media, coalition development and mobilization, prescription drug prevention strategies, medical marijuana and more. Under Andy’s direction, LEAD has developed into a nationally recognized organization that offers trainings, workshops and technical assistance for organizations all over the country. In addition to his non-profit experience, Andy has worked as a marketing and social media consultant for organizations of all types and sizes. Andy is passionate about the lives of young people, and about the adults who serve them.