Students Against Destructive Decisions

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Students Against Destructive Decisions, formerly Students Against Driving Drunk (SADD) is an organization whose aim is to prevent accidents from students taking potentially destructive decisions.


The mission of the SADD chapter is to help people avoid the dangers of drinking and driving. Today, their mission has expanded to deal with underage drinking, other drug use, risky and impaired driving, and other destructive decisions.


SADD’s approach involves young people presenting education and prevention messages to their peers through school and community activities. Projects include peer-led classes and forums, teen workshops, conferences and rallies, prevention education and leadership training, awareness-raising activities and legislative work.

As of 2012, there are nearly 10,000 Middle school, high school, and college chapters with SADD advisors. There are 350,000 students actively participating (“members”) in SADD chapters.


SADD was founded by Robert Anastas at Wayland High School in Massachusetts in 1981. He and a group of 15 students developed the SADD concept and the Contract for Life. In 1982, SADD went national with chapters founded throughout Massachusetts, Arizona,Ohio, North Carolina, Connecticut, New York, New Jersey, Florida, Pennsylvania and Maine. In 1984, Dear Abby and Ann Landers printed the Contract for Life, suggesting to all readers that they request a copy from SADD.[1][2] The SADD National office was inundated with 8,000 requests per week for six weeks. Also that year, "Contract for Life: The SADD Story" aired on CBS as a CBS Schoolbreak Special,[3] and Carl Olsen, the first SADD president at Wayland High School, was appointed by the Director of Health and Human Services as the only student to a three-year panel studying the alcoholism in America.

The following year, SADD chapters were established in Germany and Guam. Also in 1985, SADD had its first presidential moment when President Reagan met with SADD students of River Dell High School in New Jersey.[4]

In 1989, SADD chapters were established in schools in the Soviet Union. Also that year, the SADD National Board of Directors voted to cease accepting contributions from the alcohol industry.

In 1990, The American College of Physicians awarded the Edward G. Loveland Memorial Award to SADD for its contributions to the health field.

In 1992. William Cullinane became Executive Director of SADD.

The following year, the SADD Board of Directors voted not to accept funds from the alcohol industry.

In 1995, SADD received a letter of commendation from President Bill Clinton. The next year, Margaret Altstaetter, SADD Student of the Year 1995-1996, was invited to participate in the White House Leadership Conference on Youth, Drug Use and Violence.

Name Change

A new name was adopted in 1997: Students Against Destructive Decisions.

In 1999, three Student Leadership Council members, Lynsey Ross, Jereme McBride, and Carrie LeBlanc, were appointed to the National Campaign to Prevent Teen Pregnancy Leadership Team.

SADD’s Board of Directors appointed Penny Wells as its new President and Executive Director in 2000.

SADD launched its National Scholarship Program in 2002, awarding its first two scholarships the following year.

In 2004, Jacqueline Hackett, Executive Committee member of the 2003-2004 SADD National SLC, testified before the Congressional Subcommittee on Education Reform at the hearing “Preventing Underage Drinking: What Works?”[5]

In 2007, SADD attended a special White House event during which President George W. Bush highlighted a decline in youth drug use from 2001 to 2007.

In 2008, SADD partnered with the White House’s National Youth Anti-Drug Media Campaign to raise awareness about the link between stress and drug use among teens and about prescription drug use.

By 2009, the SADDvocate, SADD’s monthly e-newsletter for students and advisors, had reached more than 11,000 subscribers.

In 2010 SADD successfully lobbied for the introduction of the STARS (Students Taking Action for Road Safety) Act. In October, SADD received an international drug abuse prevention award from the Queen of Sweden. Also, The Mentor International Foundation presented SADD with the 2010 Youth Initiative Award for “Mobilizing the Community: Youth Taking the Lead.” SADD also took part in the Oprah Winfrey led "No phone zone day."[6]


New Rochelle High School

The S.A.D.D. club was founded at New Rochelle High School in 2001. The club is composed of an executive board, a faculty advisor, Mrs. Pina Palmasano, and participating students. Promoting the organization’s message, the New Rochelle chapter aims to inform students about the dangers of underage drinking, drug use, and other destructive decisions, with the ultimate goal of preventing future accidents. The club hosts various events throughout the year, including guest-speaker assemblies, bake sales, mock-tail day, and a simulated car crash. For instance, Bobby Petrocelli annually visits the school to share his story of how a drunk driver crashed through his bedroom and killed his wife. He encourages students to always make positive choices even when under pressure. In addition, the school hosts an assembly by guest speaker Marc Sterner. While driving intoxicated and celebrating spring break in the Bahamas, Marc tragically killed his two best friends. He shares his unfortunate story in hopes of preventing future DUI accidents. The messages promoted by Bobby and Marc are incredibly relevant to the audience of high school students who are just starting to drive as well as experiment with alcohol. The purpose is not to tell students what they can and cannot do, but to encourage them to think about their actions and the potential consequences.

In order to pay for the speakers to come to the school, the club must fundraise through bake sales and other events. The club hosts after school bake sales approximately four to five times per year, in which pizza, baked goods, and beverages are sold. Moreover, the club hosts their annual mock-tail day in March, in which they sell non-alcoholic strawberry daiquiris and pina coladas to both faculty and students. In addition to raising funds, this event promotes the idea that students can still have fun without drinking alcohol. The club’s final event is a simulated car crash in which firefighters and policemen reenact the after math of a drunk car crash. The scenario involves firefighters sawing open the car’s roof and pulling out the injured passenger, while policemen question the others involved. This assembly is hosted right before prom weekend in order to encourage seniors to celebrate wisely while at after prom. The event’s intent is not to terrorize, but rather present the students with the real-life consequences of drunk driving.


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