Story by Catherine Tarleton:
Young people have a voice in underage drinking prevention on Hawai‘i Island, and a new way to reach out to peers and their parents. Community outreach stations set up by island youth provide information to help kids and adults understand the risks of alcohol use before age 21.
As part of its commitment to the County of Hawai‘i underage drinking prevention campaign, Five Mountains Hawai‘i worked with Mama’s House Lifeplan Youth Leadership Team to design and print two brochures and supply them with card racks for 11 libraries island-wide. The Prevention Resource Center (PRC) of the state Coalition for a Drug-Free Hawai’i provided a third brochure, chosen by youth participants.
“The kids helped create the taglines, the artwork, messaging and style of the two brochures and they worked with 11 libraries to get the information in place,” said Robin Mullin, Executive Director of Five Mountains Hawai‘i. “And it will be their responsibility to keep the libraries stocked, and to maintain their contacts for future programs. It’s a very good experience for them, and it’s inspiring to see it work.”
“It’s not our job to tell people what to do, but to give them the choice,” said youth group member Hoku Pagan, 15. “We put resources in libraries around the island that they can really read, and learn about the consequences.”
For example, even though it has been the law since 1988, not everyone knows that 21 is the legal drinking age in all 50 states. Or, that “social hosts,” including families, who allow someone under 21 to drink alcohol can be held liable for damages they cause.
“We are very grateful to Five Mountains,” said Beth Mehau, youth leader and Executive Director of The Pantry. “And certainly to Michelle Park of PRC and all the libraries, for supporting these young people and their prevention programs. With their continued partnership, we are excited about the possibilities for expanding projects through the school year and beyond.”
In addition to the library outreach, the youth group is planning relevant activities programs for younger students, targeting underage drinking prevention. “One of our goals is to help them be prepared,” said Pagan, “so that when they go to high school, they already know what decision to make.” The youth group is also planning an underage drinking prevention poster contest for students in grade six to twelve.
Community outreach card racks can be found in the following libraries:
- Bond Memorial Public Library, Kapa‘au
- Hilo Public Library
- Holualoa Public Library
- Honoka‘a Public Library
- Kailua-Kona Public Library
- Kea‘au Public and School Library
- Kealakekua Public Library
- Laupahoehoe Public and School Library
- Mountain View Public and School Library
- Na‘alehu Public Library
- Thelma Parker Memorial Public and School Library, Waimea
This project is an equal opportunity program funded through the County of Hawai‘i Mayor’s Office, Hawai‘i Department of Health, and the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration – Center for Substance Abuse Prevention: Strategic Prevention Framework – State Incentive Grant SPO 13944.