Putting Some Muscle into Youth Substance Use Prevention
On the morning of May 20, 2023, the community of Santa Ynez Valley was filled with excitement for the 8th Annual Santa Ynez Airport Day. Families and aviation enthusiasts explored aircraft exhibits, enjoyed hamburgers provided by the Rotary Club of Santa Ynez Valley, and youth 8-17 took EAA Young Eagle introductory flights to foster community, a love for flight, and an appreciation for one of the most beautiful small airports in California.
As soon as the event opened at 10am, participants began lining up for a unique challenge—the first SafeLaunch Plane Pull competition. When the contestants, the announcer, time-keeper, coach, and photographer were at their marks, and SafeLaunch co-founder Ron Cuff was at the controls of his Cessna 182, it was time. The horn blew and they were off! Moms, Dads, and youth were cheered on as they took their turns pulling 2000 pounds of aircraft 50’ down the ramp single-handedly and in teams of two. After crossing the finish line, one local Santa Ynez teen excitedly declared, “Everyone should do this!”
Santa Barbara Police Activities League (PAL) joined SafeLaunch to volunteer and test their strength, with two of their members winning trophies for fastest time in the doubles category.
All participants received tee shirts bearing the phrase, “I Pulled A Plane for SafeLaunch” and trophies were awarded to the top performers, but the true victory was in the collective effort to make a positive impact. SafeLaunch co-founder Janet Rowse said, “Addiction is a chronic relapsing brain disease. We encourage everyone to support youth to make one choice-- not to use any substance before age 21 because the longer the brain has time to reach maturity, the more protected it is.” Since 2010, SafeLaunch has been educating parents about why and how to protect their children from addiction. To date, SafeLaunch has flown to 63 aviation events across the country and educated thousands of young families.
Learn more about SafeLaunch and Flights Above Addiction here.