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Town hall meeting: ‘How to prevent underage drinking’

The Pagosa Springs Youth Center will host a dinner and program presentation by the Archuleta School District and Pagosa Springs Youth Center staff and members on Thursday, April 19, at 6 p.m.

Local prevention efforts will be shared with parents, community members and those concerned about underage drinking and how it affects our community.

Anna Royer, Archuleta School District Community Prevention Coordinator will share “Just the Facts” on our local data and encourage next-step strategies to help our youth. This town hall format will invite questions and dialogue with youth members and staff who are confronted with the phenomenon of underage drinking every day. The who, how and why/why not will be presented by the youth and local prevention efforts will be shared.

Underage drinking is a significant public health concern that affects our youth, communities and nation. This year, hundreds of organizations across the U.S. will be hosting town hall meetings to mobilize communities to deal with underage drinking.

Pagosa Springs is getting involved in this national movement. According to the 2010 National Survey on Drug Use and Health, about 10 million 12- to 20-year-olds reported alcohol use during the past month. This number represents more than one out of every four young people in this age group. Approximately 6.5?million were binge drinkers, meaning they consumed five or more drinks on at least one occasion. Underage drinkers are at risk for negative consequences ranging from lowered academic performance to impaired driving crashes to injury and death. Their illegal use of alcohol may cause many forms of severe, even deadly, harm to others. In 2010, the estimated cost of underage drinking nationwide exceeded $62 billion.

Evidence-based types of environmental prevention can reduce the prevalence of underage drinking in communities where they are implemented. Research also indicates that families exert a great deal of influence on whether a child uses alcohol.

“What parents may not realize,” says Elizabeth Mieritz, AmeriCorps Community Prevention Organizer, “is that children say that their parents’ disapproval of underage drinking is a key reason they have chosen not to drink.”

SAMHSA reports that children and teens are less likely to abuse alcohol if parents are involved in their children’s lives, make and enforce clear rules and are positive role models.

Please join Joanne Irons, Soledad Leo, Elizabeth Mieritz, Tina Schroeder, Anna Royer and members of the Youth Panel for dinner and discussion in this Stop Underage Drinking town hall meeting at the Pagosa Springs Youth Center, 269 1/2 Pagosa St., next to Town Park. Dinner for the family is at 6 p.m. and is provided at no charge. A special thanks to Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) for coordinating this nationwide event.

For more information, visit these two websites: www.psyouthcenter.wordpress.com and www.stopalcoholabuse.gov/townhallmeetings. Or call 264-5030.

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