'Alcohol Awareness Day' Introduced Teens To Support

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As a prevention specialist for Southwest Behavioral Health Rim Guidance and one of the current sponsors for Payson High School Students Against Destructive Decisions, I want to make clarifications concerning the Dec. 30 article, "Underage consumption second-highest offense."

"Ask Shawna" was mentioned, however, the article failed to recognize it as part of "Alcohol Awareness Day," an effort by Southwest Behavioral Health Rim Guidance Prevention and local agencies, including Payson High School Drama and SADD, Payson Police Department, Department of Public Safety, Big Brothers Big Sisters, the Court Appointed Special Advocate Program, AA, NA, Al-Anon and local churches to increase awareness on underage drinking.

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Abigail Pederson

High school students and parents had the opportunity to attend the program twice during the day and at night. It began with "Ask Shawna" and concluded with addresses from local judges, Ronnie McDaniel and Dorothy Little, Rim Guidance Prevention and law enforcement officers Tiffany Harold, Vern Havens, Chris Harold and Mike Varga. Participants completed surveys and had the opportunity to speak with specialized counselors. Afterward, each agency addressed concerns and provided participants with informational resources. A few resources from Rim Guidance Prevention and SADD were how to say "No" -- not only to a ride home with an intoxicated driver, but also to a drink, intervention scripts to broach the subject with problem users, and the Contract for Life.

Our goals were to empower students and parents to identify problem-drinking signs, realize the harmful and deadly nature of underage drinking and understand that to avoid a ride home with an intoxicated driver is to avoid drinking parties and illegal underage drinking.

PHS SADD students involved in this production would tell you that SADD's focus is preventing destructive decisions such as underage drinking, not just drunk driving, just as the Contract for Life does. And this is not an enabling agreement, but one that provides safety in the event of a poor choice. As the Web site states, "This Contract is designed to facilitate communication between young people and their parents about potentially destructive decisions related to alcohol. ... The issues facing young people today are often too difficult for them to address alone. SADD believes that effective parent-child communication is critically important in helping young adults to make healthy decisions." http://www.sadd.org/contract.htm

In other words, for teens to avoid drinking and "destructive decisions," it requires a partnership: caring parents (or other adults) and the teen. Like the Contract for Life, Alcohol Awareness Day encouraged teens to re-think potentially harmful choices and realize there is support for them in making good choices from many parents, teachers, peers and community members.

Abigail Pederson, Prevention Specialist, SBH/Rim Guidance Center

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