Thursday, May 08, 2014

Teen Against Underage Drinking Town Hall Meeting

On April 16, 2014, Prevention Force Family Center held the Teen Against Underage Drinking Town Hall Meeting at the Mabel Manning Library Branch in the Near Westside Community. The Town Hall Meeting was coordinated by the Prevention Force Family Center Substance Abuse Prevention Coalition, Youth Interns and funded by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health.

The Teen Against Underage Drinking Town Hall Meeting was open to everyone, but especially targeted teens and their families. High School students were given service learning hours for volunteering and audience participation at the Meeting. The purpose of the Teen Against Underage Drinking Town Hall Meeting was to encourage parents to talk with their children about drinking on prom night and to raise awareness about the health dangers and safety risks of underage drinking and alcohol abuse in general.
The Town Hall Meeting panel discussion was full of information given from professionals who specialize in underage drinking awareness and prevention:

Evelyn Gaston, Secretary of Prevention Force Family Center’s Board lead the Town Hall Meeting panelists in discussion on the dangerous effects of drinking on prom night and safety risks of underage drinking. 

Jelisa Marie Mercado, Prevention Specialist supervisor of the Rincon Family Services, spoke on the safety risks of underage drinking and its connection to prom night.

Terry Toner, Administrative Assistant for the 24th Ward, Office of Alderman Jason Ervin, spoke on the hazardous effects of drinking alcohol and driving.  The audience grew emotional as they listened to him share his personal story.

Amanda Ball, Administrative Coordinator of Prevention Force Family Center and Retired Register Nurse spoke on teens admit to emergency room due to underage drinking and the incidents caused by drinking. She provided information about the dangerous effects of energy drinks combine with alcohol and drugs. She presented statics on emergency room admissions due to underage drinking and alcohol abuse.

Jazmyne Walker, Entrepreneur Instructor/ Prevention Specialist of Prevention Force Family Center, spoke on safety risks of drinking during prom event.  

Victor Nevarez, DUI/Traffic Safety Coordinator of the Rincon Family Services discussed DUI laws and how alcohol affects the body and mind.

Attendees were provided a variety of resource information about underage drinking. Information e.g., Where Do Young People Get Alcohol, How Marijuana Affect the Body, the Danger Effects of Tobacco Products, and health, safety and other prevention brochures from Rincon Family Services and Prevention Force Family Center. Francine McCants, Administrative Assistant of Prevention Force Family Center provide information about summer jobs to youth through the Prevention Force Family Center, as well.

Angel Roman, Program Coordinator of the Rincon Family Services provided information about Rincon Family Services programs and services to the attendees.  Gerardo Lopez, Lead Youth Development Specialist of Youth Futures pass out information on his organization Central States SER/SERCO Inc, which promotes economic self sufficiency and upward mobility for low-income community residents through education and employment. Attendees were able to discuss the program requirements with him and schedule appointment.

Sandra Glenn, Program Director of Prevention Force Family Center said, "Every parent should be talking to their children about underage drinking, especially now. The Teen Against Underage Drinking Town Hall Meeting helped engage parents, teens and the community in conversations that can help prevent young people from consuming alcohol and compromising some of the many opportunities that await them."
Recent statistics only affirm parents’ concerns about teenage consumption of alcohol during prom night. In recent years, teenagers have considered drinking on prom night a rite of passage. This past week the media has addressed the dangerous effects of drinking and driving during prom time.  

Sabrina Gaston, Executive Director of Prevention Force Family Center said, "As a community, we can save lives by talking about underage drinking and educating young people and their parents about the dangers associated with it. Also, She stated that the Town Hall Meeting discussion was another way to increase community awareness on the issues of underage drinking, helped to identify how underage drinking affects the community, and brainstorm possible solutions.

Underage Drinking Prevention: Town Hall Meeting is a national effort by the Federal Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, U.S. Department of Health and Health Services, to educate students, youth, parents, caregivers, adults, businesses about the harmful effects of underage drinking.