Congratulations to Rhea Bhat for being selected for the 2020 SADD (Students Against Destructive Decisions SPEAKs team.)

SADD, the Nation's Premier Youth Health & Safety Organization, is the nation's leading peer-to-peer youth education, prevention, and activism organization, and advocating for safety issues is an important part of their mission.

SADD SPEAKs is an intensive leadership and advocacy training program for rising high school juniors and seniors) designed to empower students to address e-cigarette and vaping issues at the national, state and local levels.

These student leaders will have a positive and lasting effect on critically important issues. Students selected for the 2020 SPEAKs team will be asked to develop an advocacy plan to address vaping and e-cigarette use in their state and communities.

Rhea will be traveling to Washington, DC, where the capstone SPEAKs is a four day, three-night event where participants will meet with representatives of national organizations dedicated to youth safety, Congressional staff focused on tobacco policy and federal agency staff responsible for federal policy related to tobacco use. Students also will plan and moderate a briefing for Capitol Hill staff regarding teens and vaping/e-cigarette use.

Following her trip to Washington, Rhea will put her new skills into practice by working to influence local, state and/or federal policy. She hopes to present at national youth conferences, national webinars and help to organize state-level events. Rhea plans to utilize social media to spread the word.

The road to SADD’s SPEAKs started when Rhea was hit by a distracted diver as she stepped off her school bus in 8th grade. Says Steve Mochel, Parent and CEO of Fresh Green Light Driving School; as well as lead sponsor of The Depot's SADD chapter, “There's nothing more powerful than peers hearing from peers, and we're so proud of Rhea for being selected to have her story told at such an important gathering of like-minded students from around the country at this year's National SADD conference.”

Mr. Mochel has co-sponsored Rhea's trip, and partnered in the past with RHEA to produce a video on her story. Rhea said her experiences as part of her Distracted Driver Campaign have showed her that public speaking is her calling. She is currently on the high school's debate team, and is exploring law as a future career.

From Chief of Police Donald Anderson said, "On behalf of the Darien Police Department, I offer my heartiest congratulations to Rhea Bhat on being selected to represent Darien on the 2020 SADD SPEAKs team. Being selected to attend this national 4 day leadership and advocacy training institute in the area of empowering and related issues is indeed an honor. As always, the Darien Police Department is proud of our longstanding association with the young men and women in our local SADD group which meets at The Depot. When we see our Darien students making good life decisions while being engaged in wide ranging community issues, we are highly confident that the future is indeed bright. Again, congratulations!"