History of Young People’s Groups
Alcoholism recognizes no barriers, age included. The first Young People’s Groups (YPG’s) in Alcoholics Anonymous appeared in 1945 in Los Angeles, California, and Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. In 1957, a meeting of young AA’s from across the U.S. and Canada started what is now the International Conference of Young People in Alcoholics Anonymous (ICYPAA). At the 1960 Convention, Bill W. noted that the age of new members was much lower than when he and Dr. Bob founded AA 25 Years earlier. A 1975 ICYPAA pamphlet described the people in YPG’s as in their twenties and thirties, with some teenagers. The trend has continued. A 1989 AA survey reported that 30% of the respondents were under 40 years of age and that 3% were under 21 years of age. The number of young people suffering from alcoholism who turn to AA for help is growing and the purpose of YPG’s, just as it has been for many years, is to carry AA’s message of recovery to alcoholics no matter what their age. YPG’s provide young newcomers with a meeting where they can see and share the experience of sobriety with other young people.
YPG’s try to make the newcomer understand that 20-plus years of drinking coupled with loss of family, friends, and finances are not necessary for one to be ready for sobriety. YPG’s bring the newcomer into the mainstream of AA Recovery, Service, and Unity through the 12 steps, the 12 Traditions, and the 12 Concepts for World Service, carrying AA’s message to the suffering alcoholic. YPG’s are in no way separate from Alcoholics Anonymous as a whole. Members of YPG’s are involved in and committed to Twelfth Step Work, Hospital and Institution Work, Public Information, General Service, and every other facet of AA service. Newcomers are shown, by people their own age, that using AA principles in their daily lives and getting involved in AA service can lead to a lasting and comfortable sobriety.
The General Service Board and General Service Office recognize young people’s groups and VSCYPAA as part of Alcoholics Anonymous. The only age requirement is that you be young at heart and have room to grow.
What is the Virginia State Conference of Young People in A.A. (VSCYPAA)? Why was it formed?
VSCYPAA started in the early fall of 1996, to address the needs of young newcomers in Virginia. The VSCYPAA Committee and Conference provides an opportunity for young AA’s from Virginia and surrounding areas to come together and share their experience, strength, and hope as young people in Alcoholics Anonymous. YPG’s, young people’s conferences in other cities, states and countries, and the International Conference of Young People in AA are visible evidence that large numbers of young people can achieve lasting and fruitful sobriety in Alcoholics Anonymous. Experience has shown that AA’s, of all ages, who participate in activities held by YPG’s have gained a better understanding of young people. With this new understanding, they return to their homegroups better prepared to receive young people who come to AA in hopes of finding a better way of life.
Bill W., elaborating on the purpose of the 12 Traditions, stated that we A.A.’s “must hang together, or die separately.” In the spirit of the traditions, VSCYPAA promotes the sharing of experience, strength, and hope of sober AA’s in hopes that there may occur the single most important element of what holds our fellowship together, identification of one alcoholic talking to another alcoholic – realizing the nature of our malady. The closer the shared experience, the greater the chance for identification. By using the concept of identification, VSCYPAA hopes to attract the young newcomer, at the same time providing an opportunity in which sober AA’s can be of service.
The VSCYPAA committee started after noting the positive effect that other young people’s conferences were having, and the lack of such a conference in the history of the Virginia Area. The standing committee passed a motion stating that the mission statement of the committee state: “[The purpose of VSCYPAA is] To unite AA members in the State of Virginia, and to help young people stay sober and have fun.”
Who make up the VSCYPAA Committee?
The VSCYPAA committee was started by AA members from the Alexandria, Arlington, Dulles, Fairfax, Falls Church, Mount Vernon, Richmond, Springfield, Staunton and Woodbridge districts of the Virginia Area (#71). Their ages range from 14 to 42 with sobriety ranging from two weeks to 26 years.
It is the vision of VSCYPAA to have AA members from every district in the Virginia Area contribute to the direction of committee. This can be accomplished by encouraging AA’s from all over the state to get involved. All are welcome to place a bid to host the annual VSCYPAA conference in your district, attend the bid session for the annual conference, nominate yourself or friends for committee positions, hold VSCYPAA activities in their area, etc. VSCYPAA has an Advisory Committee who have the role of ensuring that AA’s legacies are adhered to, and ensuring a feeling of inclusiveness and preventing VSCYPAA from ever neglecting the needs of any specific district, group or person.