How often do you see groups of people meeting for coffee around town in the mornings? Klunders, McDonalds, Casey's..people meet to talk. Some meet for a certain purpose and some meet for the fun of it. These social encounters are important. They help us solve problems. They can straighten out facts. Most of all, socializing is healthy and fun!
Since the coalition began to share information about the high rate of alcohol use in the community, we hear about the conversations. Change is difficult. It is messy. It upsets people. It is hoped that the best possible and correct information is being shared. The facts speak for themselves, but what if the facts aren't straight? Do the messages reach the intended audience with accuracy? Usually not. Ever played telephone? Then you know, things can get mixed up. The bottom line is, the lives of our kids are at stake. Underage alcohol use and decisions made during use has the potential to ruin lives forever. And my guess is everyone has a story to tell. So, if you care. If you want the community to embrace the problem of underage drinking and find solutions, then help us to spread the right information.
People in the community must know that coalition members truly care and understand the great risks of underage drinking. With care for social norms and community readiness, coalition members are trying to raise awareness and implement strategies to move the community in a positive direction. Education, policy changes, enforcement strategies, marketing and now MENTORING! Volunteers are putting in hours of their time to make a difference in the lives of our future generations.
Here is the number one fact to share-
Drinking alcohol before the brain is fully developed is a HUGE health risk. Why? Because it increases the likelihood of addictions. The younger a person starts the worse it is. Kids are drinking in our community at a rate higher than their peers around the state. True. A fact. Taking the keys away only says, "it is okay if you drink" (and you won't develop an addiction, because I'm fine). Times have changed. Not everyone survives. Protect teens like we protect babies with car seats. Take the alcohol away! Yes, this will be unpopular. It will be different. Friendships might change. Even among adults. But isn't time we start sending the right messages?
We would encourage the conversations coupled with good information and a heart to understand the intentions of those who are putting in their time. Learn as much as you can and help to pass along the right information. People have questioned the data and we would say....ask the kids. Ask them how much drinking is actually going on. They will tell you. Give kids the opportunity to have a conversation with you about this. Let's dig in and talk about this together!
In good health, Betsy