Mountain Youth Drama

Contact: Lori Gates-Addison, CPP, LCSW,

A theatrical group comprised of teenagers from all three Russell County VA high schools who perform original prevention messages to school age youth and community venues. The program began in 1994 and is a collaborative effort between Cumberland Mountain Community Services and the Russell County School Division. Through the use of drama, dance and song cast members illustrate positive peer pressure and serve as role models to their peers. The program provides 2 – 6 hours a week of alternative adult leadership mentoring for cast members during the production development. For it's audiences, the program is an information dissemination effort for the local schools and community. Students participating sign a contract to remain drug free and maintain a passing academic standing.


Over 80% of MYD participants go on to attend college!


Cast Member Updates and Reflections:

“In high school, I felt that I needed something in my life. Something with meaning, something that could reach me as well as others. Then one day I attended a show called Mountain Youth Drama, and as I set there, I watched these kids have fun. They sang, they danced, they acted and I wanted so badly to be a part of that. I auditioned, made the cut and bam, I was in for the ride of my life. MYD was a great opportunity to show kids outside of the group how to handle the pressures of sex, drugs, parent abuse and many similar topics. It was in MYD where I met and made my best friends. MYD helped me come out of my shell and to share the fun with other viewers. I felt like I was a part of a great team, better yet, a family. It was always rewarding when after a show, a kid would stand from the audience and say "Hey, my parents do drugs, and you helped me see how to handle that." If I could, I would do MYD all over again. It is part of who I am, who I've become and a part that I will still grow into.”

Justin Trout, 2003-06
Masters in Counseling


“Mountain Youth Drama helped everybody. It helped those who saw it and it helped us too. I always wanted to get closer to people and the group helped me do that. That’s what it’s all about! Touching others and allowing ourselves to be touched. We all have hearts. Opening up to the world makes us human beings in a human world. Mountain Youth Drama showed us how we are all human and how we all need other people to really be human.”

Beth Smith, 1995- 1999
College Graduate and Graphic Artist


“MYD is a good activity for kids to do that may feel angry or alone because it brings people together and lets you express your emotions so that you don't have to hold it in side. There was always some one there to talk to if you needed it. MYD is a good warning program because it can demonstrate warning signs of troubled kids to mass amounts of people so that everyone will know what to look for and who to help.”

Jenna Nichols, High School Valedictorian 2003-2006
Journalist and Cast Member


“If I could say anything about my life during the time I was in Mountain Youth Drama, it would be acceptance. It was a place where I could go and be myself and have a ball doing what I loved to do. It’s important for kids to have an outlet, its important for everyone to have an outlet. I know that now more than ever. Thanks for all you do!”

Kaitlin Dodi-Monk PhD, 1998- 2000
Physical Therapist


“Being a Member of The MYD Team was an Experience that everyone should have. we were members but We never Got to stay and Perform. We came from in from a different state and Community. We also Came from a Drug Home and never said anything. We would Go to school and not talk to anyone we met. But one fall afternoon after school we walked down the road and heard a bunch of singing kids in the gym. As we walk in we notice a bunch of kids that we saw at school on that very stage dancing and doing what they love. We never knew that the singing we heard would change our lives. Those Kids on stage ended up being our best friends and family. We grew to know every person’s Life, dreams, goals and fears. MYD Changed are Lives and if it was not for Lori and MYD, we would have went in the wrong direction. If you want to be a part of a team and family, I would recommend that you walk down past Lebanon Middle on A Wed. afternoon and follow the Singing. Thank you MYD“

Josh Wheeler and Sarah Wheeler Owens, 2000
Dancer and 4 Year Air Force Airmen