April is Alcohol Awareness Month. To commemorate the month, the Reduce Underage Drinking Task Force is conducting a variety of activities.
Astoria, Seaside, and Warrenton police departments are conducting teach-ins at elementary schools to educate young people about the harm and consequences of underage alcohol use.
More than 10 coffee shops are partnering with the task force on a sticker campaign, a project of the Broadway Middle School Leadership Class. Students asked middle-school-aged youth throughout the county to submit entries of stickers depicting a message aimed at reducing youth alcohol use. The winning favorite was designed by Brittany West, a sixth grader from Broadway Middle School, whose sticker will be placed on "to go" coffee cups at participating venues during the month of April.
The Seaside High School Key Club collaborated with Oregon Partnership, Seaside Kiwanis and KCBZ 949 radio to produce public service announcements on underage drinking.
With the help of radio personality John Chapman, the youth voiced the messages which encourage parents to talk with their children, monitor their whereabouts and be good role models for healthy behaviors.
These activities are coordinated by Jessica Johnson, AmeriCorps Healthy Options through Prevention (HOPE) member with LifeWorks NW, who has been actively involved all year with a variety of youth programs working to reduce youth substance abuse in the county.
For the first time in more than a decade, Clatsop County survey data on monthly alcohol use is below the state average. Jill Quackenbush, prevention supervisor at LifeWorks NW, and designated county prevention coordinator, credits schools, parents, law enforcement, churches, retailers, youth servicing agencies and youth for the success.
"It takes a comprehensive approach to really make a difference," she said.
While cautioning there is a need to wait and see if the downward trend continues, Quackenbush is pleased with the progress. "I think the Reduce Underage Drinking Task Force has worked hard over the last 10 years, and should be proud of this change," she said.