Sunday, August 8, 2010

Teens join effort to reduce underage drinking

 The Wood County Educational Service Center’s alcohol prevention program had a display booth at the Wood County Fair to survey attendees on their perception of underage drinking in Wood County.  

The surveys were conducted by the Communities Mobilizing for Change on Alcohol (CMCA) Street Team. This team is comprised of teen leaders from Wood County schools who are promoting the media campaign, The New Cool. This campaign, which will go into full swing with the beginning of the school year, is designed to engage youth to make positive choices as alternatives to underage drinking.

Fun giveaways and coloring pages were also part of this booth that had lots of participation from
Wood County children, teens and adults throughout the day.

Jayden Haylett, age 6, of Bowling Green; and Brenna DeVall, age 8, of North Baltimore, colored signs featuring the New Cool logo and finished the sentence, “My cool is…”

Breanna wrote that she likes cats and gymnastics, and is good at swimming.

“I like Lions,” wrote Jayden. “I like gymnastics.”

Other youth who finished the sentence this week wrote said they enjoy swimming, going to grandma’s house, fishing, camping, going to the fair and walking. The idea of the worksheet was to get youths to think of ways to enjoy life while alcohol-free.

Melissa Haylett, of Bowling Green, said she doesn’t see a lot of underage consumption.

“I think it was a lot worse when I was growing up,” said Melissa Haylett, of Bowling Green. She is Jayden’s grandmother and Breanna’s aunt. “I think the schools are getting more involved and making more of an issue out of it.”

“It appears she’s right,” said Debbie Marinik, the community organizer for the Reducing Alcohol Abuse in Secondary Schools (RAASS) grant through the Wood County Educational Service Center, which funds  CMCA and the street team. “From the latest alcohol survey this year, alcohol use from grades 7 through 12 is definitely down in Wood County in comparison to national figures. But we still have a lot to do.

People who took the survey were invited to be a part of the Communities Mobilizing for Change on Alcohol Task Force to work on the problem of underage alcohol use in Wood County. The next task force meeting will be held Aug. 30, from 6:30 to 7:30.

The street team is an important segment of the New Cool campaign.

“I heard about Teen Institute and I went to the meetings,” said Kelsey Long, who will be a sophomore at Eastwood High School. “I just kept going,” and became more involved in leadership roles, including The New Cool Street Team.
“I have been involved with TI since my freshman year,” said Tyeler Mazey, a senior football player at Lake High School. “I can be on the street team during the summer and most of the school year.”

“I like to make a difference,” he added. “The less underage drinking, the less the chance for anything (negative) to happen.”

The New Cool Street Team will also have a booth at the Pemberville fair.
Jayden Haylett, age 6, left, and Brenna DeVall, age 8, participate in youth activities at the Wood County Educational Service Center’s Communities Mobilizing for Change on Alcohol booth at the Wood County Fair Sunday.

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