The Coalition, the Sheriff’s Department, and NEO are collaborating in a series of interactive school presentations about underage drinking consequences, reasons to choose a drug and alcohol free lifestyle and local fun events and activities. With the help of ABC funding, the Sheriff’s Department is focusing on education, prevention and compliance enforcement to reduce youth access to alcohol and underage drinking. The funding also allows them a unique opportunity to collaborate with the Coalition in outreach and education presentations for local students.
The April 4th presentation at Seven Hills Middle School, opened with a powerful song performed by local NEO musical artist and Youth Coordinator, Hayley Pritchard. Hayley’s remarkable vocal talent has been on display to support NEO and the plans for a youth center for the last three years since she first discovered the powerful duo, Lynn Skrukrud and Halli Ellis, who founded NEO. Hayley and Lynn shared the plans for a youth center in Grass Valley and their hope of promoting a location where youth feel safe, engaged, supported, and essential to community development.
Hayley introduced Nevada County Sheriff Corporal Brandon Corchero and Deputy Micah Arbaugh for an informative presentation about the risks of alcohol use among youth and the potentially very serious consequences for adults purchasing or furnishing alcohol to anyone under 21 years old. With t-shirts as incentive to ask and answer questions, the 5th through 8th graders remained hands in the air and eager to participate.
Students learned that law enforcement officers often go undercover at places where alcohol is sold. They also learn that if they have an incident with alcohol as a minor they jeopardize something very important to them; their ability to have a driver license. The middle schoolers learned about arrests being made for adults purchasing or providing alcohol to a minor and that merchants face fines and can lose their liquor license for selling alcohol to someone under the age of 21.
Shasta Spencer, Youth Prevention Intern for the Coalition for a Drug Free Nevada County engaged the youthful audience by selecting one male and one female attendee to participate in a “Balloon Juggle” activity. The concept, Shasta explained, is that we have responsibilities in many areas of our lives. We have to balance school, chores, friends, family, hobbies, sports, and other interests into 24-hour days. These responsibilities, even for young children can add up quickly leading to a very involved schedule that may seem stressful and unreasonable to the person experiencing all of these tasks.
Shasta demonstrated this experience using balloons. At first, the two balloons full of tasks and day-to-day commitments appeared manageable for the two participants. Once the balloon, identified as alcohol and drug use was added to the equation, the students realized that they could no longer juggle the tasks they needed to perform and responsibilities while keeping the alcohol and drugs balloon in the air.
The assembly concluded with an interactive Q & A session designed to highlight the positive choices teens make and dispel misperceptions of use. Arming students with the truth: Most youth don’t use drugs and alcohol and sharing the Good News: 94% of 7th graders say the DO NOT drink alcohol and 96% report they DO NOT smoke marijuana.
The hope following these presentations delivered at the middle school level is that youth will be better armed with the truth during these critical years where peer influence and disproportionate reporting can influence their decisions and lead them to think that alcohol and drug use is much more acceptable and prevalent than it is. This collaborative partnership between ABC, Nevada County Sheriff’s and the Coalition for a Drug Free Nevada County is reaching out to provide education, awareness, and a better sense of the healthy alternatives available to the youth of our community so that the next generation of adults can be positive role models and share the message of a healthier community…today, tomorrow, firstname.lastname@example.org