The first We Are The Majority Rally (WATM) was held in May 2012 and was born out of the inaugural Youth Council retreat for OYLPN. The original nine young people from across the state met in fall 2011 to examine data related to youth substance use rates in Ohio and develop a strategic plan for OYLPN. One of the most important pieces of information that came from the retreat was that the majority of youth were not using substances. Once they began to discuss strategies and activities to promote this positive social norm, they came up with the idea to hold a rally in downtown Columbus and to invite young people and youth-led programs from all over Ohio – and the WATM rally was born. The first WATM Rally was held at Huntington Park with music, skits and energizers, and included a march to the Ohio Statehouse where youth had lunch and participated in a prevention education workshop. Over 500 people attended the first rally, exceeding expectations but leading to an even bigger vision.
Over the past decade, the WATM Rally has grown every year with more and more young people in attendance and more and more support from stakeholders, including Ohio’s governor, first John Kasich and now Mike DeWine. The Rally changed slightly every year, but the energy has always remained the same. Over the years the Rally has been held at Huntington Park, the Convention Center, Columbus Commons, and most recently, Genoa Park but always ending with a march to the Statehouse. The last live Rally, in May 2019, had over 1,200 young people in attendance.
Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the 2020 and 2021 Rallies have been held virtually but still engaged hundreds of youth from across the state. Over the last 10 years, the one thing has remained the same, is the mission, and the fact that the majority of young people REMAIN drug free.
- Attend a regional watch party. There will be five regional watch parties across the state that will be open to anyone in the surrounding area (official locations TBD).
- Host a small watch party with your group or at your school.
- Watch with a friend or two from the comfort of your own home.
Regional watch party locations
- Northwest hosted by HC3 at the Rotary Park Shelter House: 652 Wood St. Wauseon, OH 43567
- Northeast hosted by The LCADA Way: 421 Black River Rd. Lorain, Oh 44052
- Central hosted by Youth to Youth: 118 E. Main St. Columbus, Oh 43215
- Southwest hosted by Youth at the Center: 1110 Main St. Suite 100 Cincinnati, Oh 45202
- Southern hosted by Impact Prevention Ironton Metropolitan Housing Authority-Riverhills Community Building: 628 South Ninth St. Ironton, Oh 45638
CarolineINSPIRES Bennett (she/her)
As a 2x TEDx Speaker, capturing and transforming the lives of over 16,000 youth across more than 14 states, virtually and in-person, Ms. Caroline Inspires Bennett is surely a sought after unapologeticauthentic force whose transformative inspiration you would not want to miss! As a speaker, artist, and educator- Ms. Caroline Inspires uses her gift of gab and artistic genius to Captivate, Create, and Connect with all who she comes in contact with. As her face was featured on shirts for the international retail corporation, Abercrombie & Fitch, For Justice For Joy Mural Tee, Ms. Caroline Inspires is a highly regarded multifaceted cross cultural influencer, entrepreneur, philanthropist, artist, speaker, author, and educator.
Ms. Caroline Inspires prides herself in advocating for those who come from communities that mirror theone she grew up in. With more than 10 years of experience in youth and community outreach efforts, Ms. Caroline Inspires has inspired and served over 16,500 youth and more than 900+ families. Her imprint of inspiration, through her educational and community endeavors, has procured over $32,000 of donations and other essential needs for youth and their families such as food, utilities, furniture, and health services. In her first curated documentary, This Girl! That Smile. Her Spirit, and in her forthcoming books, she endeavors to document the journeys of youth while empowering them to re-write their narrative.
Currently, Ms. Caroline Inspires resides in Columbus, Ohio, where you can find her imprint throughout the city and beyond. Further embodied in her #BE #YOUR #MARK Collection, an apparel line that combines her invigorating inspiration and colorful legacy, Ms. Caroline Inspires is sure to be a light that illuminates all spaces and unapologetically and authentically brings about the best in every space she occupies.
Lori Criss (she/her), Director, Ohio Mental Health and Addiction Services
A native of eastern Ohio, Lori Criss has been engaged in the behavioral health field since 1992. Her experience includes working for the Ohio Commission on Minority Health and Amethyst, Inc. Prior to coming to OhioMHAS, Lori served as the Chief Executive Officer of the Ohio Council of Behavioral Health & Family Services Providers.
Ms. Criss holds bachelor’s and master’s degrees in social work from The Ohio State University. She graduated from SAMHSA’s 2010-2011 Women’s Addiction Services Leadership Institute, a year-long nationally-selective, intensive program designed to build leaders for the nation’s behavioral health field. Lori has most recently served on the Advisory Board to Ohio’s Criminal Sentencing Commission, the National Council for Behavioral Health’s Addiction Policy Committee, and Ohio’s Housing and Homeless Collaborative.
She is a former board member for the National Alliance for Recovery Residences and served as the Principal Advisor for Ohio Recovery Housing.
Matthew Meade (he/him)
My name is Matthew Meade (he/him). I am a 30 year-old who grew up in Marion, Ohio and I currently live in Columbus, Ohio. My life goal is to fight for equality and equity for people who have been treated unfairly for generations. After spending years on stage in musicals and plays and with my sights set on Broadway, all of my focuses and interests changed when I won the title of Mr. Gay Ohio in 2017. I suddenly felt so connected to advocacy and wanted to be a voice for the people who don’t have one themselves. Whether it be influencing positive lifestyle choices in LGBTQIA+ youth or sitting in board rooms to make sure disparities in our under-privledged communities aren’t overlooked, I’m here to make a change. I’m so happy to be a part of this back for my second ‘We Are The Majority’ and I know we can make a change within communities, large and small!
LaTasha Washington (she/her), MDiv, MACC, LPC
LaTasha D. Washington is a native of Cleveland, Ohio and currently residing in Columbus, Ohio. She is a graduate of Baldwin-Wallace College majoring in Psychology with minors in English and Child & Family Studies. A seminary graduate of Ashland Theological Seminary, LaTasha completed her Master’s in Clinical Counseling from Liberty University. She is certified in Mental Health First Aid and has obtained her LPC from the State Board of Ohio in 2018.
Active in the mental health field since 1998, LaTasha is experienced with working with various ages, cultures, religions, and genders. She is the developer of curriculum for the Black Girls Glow and the Transit Arts Residency Program sat Central Community House in Columbus, Ohio. LaTasha has been a keynote speaker, panelist, and consultant for agencies and hospitals. Energetic, interactive, and packed with relatable instruction, LaTasha’s presentations are captivating as well as informative.
LaTasha, the creator & founder of her own practice, LifeWalk LLC, an interactive & practical approach to counseling, is passionate about mental health and ministry. LaTasha seeks to fulfill her calling by combining the two so that God’s people can live life and that more abundantly. Including in this combination, LaTasha passionately specializes in depression, anxiety, Biblical Clinical Counseling, mental health & the church, domestic violence, trauma, and Spiritual Abuse. A sound mind, balanced emotions, with total wholeness are the main goals of LaTasha when working with others to become their best selves.
LifeWalk. Your life. One step at a time.
The Ohio Youth-Led Prevention Network was built on the idea that creating a network of strong connections between prevention programs would strengthen youth-led programming in Ohio. A core piece to developing these connections was to bring together young people from groups across the state to serve as the Youth Council. This Youth Council would not only build their own strong ties as a group but help facilitate the building of connections between other young people across the state. The “We Are The Majority” Rally was one of the first ideas the youth council had to bring people together and create connections.
The inaugural Youth Council was made up of nine high school students that were engaged with their local youth-led prevention groups. One of these inaugural members was Marisa Smock. Marisa served on youth council in its first three years in existence as a representative of the Youth to Youth’s Youth Advisory Board and played an integral part in planning the WATM Rally each year. But more important than any of the planning she was able to do was her ability to connect. Marisa was outgoing, energetic, and had an infectious smile and big laugh that made it extremely easy for anyone to bond with her. She always made it her personal responsibility to make everyone feel like they belonged. These characteristics made her a leader in youth-led prevention.
Marisa passed away when she was 19 during her freshman year in college from an asthma attack. The Ohio Youth-Led Prevention Network wants to start a tradition each year, honoring Marisa’s legacy by giving this award to a young person in the state of Ohio that embodies her same characteristics.
Though Marisa is no longer physically with us, nominees of this award should demonstrate her same positivity, passion for prevention, uncanny ability to make others feel like they belong, enthusiasm for leadership, and ability to bring people together.
If you know a young person who possesses these same qualities and would like to nominate them for this award, please complete the application form using the link below by April 21st.
Engage with us on social media throughout the rally for a chance to win some epic prizes! Use the following hashtags #WATM22, #TheTeenExperience, #OwnYourPowerwhen prompted on Twitter and Instagram or tag @OYLPN on your Instagram story to be entered to win. We will announce the winners live through out the rally.
Some items you have the chance to win are an Apple iPad Pro, Nintendo Switch Lite, Apple AirPod Pro’s , Apple Watch, Beats Fit Pro wireless headphones, Apple AirPod Max, Meta Quest 2 Advanced, and/or a Microsoft Surface Go 3.
BHB (Brother’s helping Bruthas)
BHB (Brothers Helpin Bruthas) is a DJ, choreographer, founder of the The Origins & Evolution of Hip Hop at the Columbus Metropolitan Library, & founder of The Hip Hop Expo. BHB uses Hip Hop as a positive vehicle to deter youth from negative activity.
MarieElaine is a vocalist, poet, community advocate for her peers, and aspiring speaker. She uses the arts as an outlet to express herself. Marie, after being saved by the arts, was inspired to use her voice and platform to share her experiences with the world in hopes that she can continue saving lives and guiding people through their healing journeys with her gifts and discernment through God. She has a gift for opening the minds and hearts of adults, those who serve youth, by providing them a better understanding of the experiences, mental and emotional journeys of young people.
Ty’keiceMotivates is an up-and-coming motivational speaker, poet, community advocate, and entrepreneur. His drive comes from his experiences as a young inner-city, low-income youth. His mission is always to uplift the spirits of black Boy’s and black people.