According to research, youth who begin drinking before the age of 15 are five times more likely to develop alcohol problems or addiction than those who start after they are 21.
April is designated “National Alcohol Awareness Month,” a time to increase public awareness on the prevention of underage drinking. The Iroquois-Kankakee Regional Office of Education’s Life Education Center program and Pledge for Life Partnership will participate in and promote efforts to raise awareness on this issue.
The adolescent brain doesn’t finish developing until age 25 and is more vulnerable to the toxic and addictive actions of alcohol. Adolescent drinkers typically perform poorly in school and are more likely to suffer from mental and physical health issues, including depression, suicidal thoughts and violence than their nondrinking peers.
The good news is 80 percent of 10- to 18-year-olds say their parents are the leading influence in whether they choose to drink or not. A parent’s most effective tool in keeping their child alcohol-free is their voice.
Short, frequent talks about the risks of underage drinking have been proven to be the most effective in supporting your child’s alcohol-free lifestyle. I-Kan and Pledge encourage parents and guardians to talk small, talk often and keep showing up as children still are growing up.
‘Choose Wise Highs! Be Kind To The Mind’
The Pledge for Life Partnership Youth Advisory Council will help to spread the word about “Wise Highs” — healthy alternatives to underage drinking by participating in the “Choose Wise Highs! Be Kind To The Mind” social media campaign. They also will encourage their peers to participate.
National Prescription Drug Take Back Day
In addition to celebrating National Alcohol Awareness Month in April, the Life Education Center and Pledge for Life Partnership Youth Advisory Council will be assisting the Kankakee Area Metropolitan Enforcement Group and local law enforcement from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. April 24 at Northfield Square mall for the National Prescription Drug Take Back Day.
This day is meant to encourage the community to safely dispose of unused, unwanted and expired prescription drugs.
National Prevention Week will be celebrated May 9 through 15, and the Life Education Center and Pledge for Life Partnership will join the rest of the nation in using this week to raise awareness for the prevention of teen substance misuse and suicide.
Parents, social workers and educators are invited to attend a webinar on preventing underage drinking from 2 to 3 p.m. May 11 with Dr. Jason Kilmer, titled “Alcohol Prevention: From Placebo to Perceptions.” To register, go to PledgeforLife.org.
National Prevention Week will culminate with a community event titled “OpenMindedness-End the Stigma, Mental Health and Wellness Fest” from 8 a.m. to noon May 15 at the Kankakee Farmers’ Market. This event is sponsored by the Life Education Center and Pledge for Life Partnership in collaboration with Project SUN.
During the month of May, I-Kan and Pledge for Life will encourage participation in a social media campaign #WhoIsMyGoTo, this campaign asks participants to identify their support system and share who their “go-to person” is in a time of need.
For more information, contact Brenda Wetzel, director of Life Education Center programs at the Iroquois-Kankakee Regional Office of Education at 815-936-4606. For parent resources, go to PledgeforLife.org.