Editorial: Above the influence

February 8, 2012

Someone at a grocery store last week questioned that teenagers were putting "Stop" stickers on beer and wine.

Why, they asked, are kids giving the rest of us advice?

Why, indeed. The sale and use of alcohol, proper or improper, is a matter affecting people of all ages, and there are youth in our community, members of the Hood River Valley Health Media Club, who are better informed than most of us.

A heart and mind was changed when the Health Media Club spent time delivering a direct but subtle


"Sticker Shock" it was called, and it's one of a variety of personal and media-based prevention outreach

efforts by youth that are happening now or forthcoming.

It's all about staying "Above the Influence." Local

students are now engaged in effective ways to apply that national campaign by the Partnership for a Drug-Free America.

Movie theater ads, one-on-one conversations, posters and brochures and participation in hands-on prevention efforts are all part of a scheme that is quietly gathering steam.

In Sticker Shock, the students affix "Stop Sign" stickers, which they designed, to containers reminding customers that there are laws against serving alcohol to minors, as well as against drinking and driving. This was done at Rosauers and Safeway last week, and other retailers have participated in past Sticker Shock

campaigns such as the one for July 4 - like Super Bowl, the other big weekend for alcohol sales.

"The kids are excited to be doing all this," said Shaun Anderson, now in his second year directing a vibrant set of efforts by young people to, yes, teach us all.

The Health Club kids are learning how to talk with adults and with peers about drug and alcohol abuse

prevention. They're boning up on statistics, graphic

design, public speaking, and more skills.

They are striving to raise awareness in their peers and adults about holiday drinking, and ways that youth are unlawfully allowed access to alcohol.

"We have that conversation about what that looks like for them, what they've seen," according to Anderson. The students are versed in Oregon Healthy Teen Data shared by county substance abuse coalitions, and they also study what's going in other states, "as a

strategy to get information out," Anderson said.

"We walk them through the process of why we're doing it, so they can have that conversation," he said.

It works because of cooperation between the school district and law enforcement, the juvenile department, health department and other local and regional entities.

By turning students into advocates, it goes well beyond the old "Just Say No" approach that was well-intentioned but impractical.

In Hood River, the teens are empowering themselves and their peers to learn and respond in healthy ways.

Two forthcoming efforts are the "Dressed up - not messed up" campaign to promote alcohol-free high school proms this spring, and partnership with the Tri-County Hazardous Waste program on a prescription drug take-back day in Hood River County, on a date in May to be announced. Law enforcement agencies and pharmacists will be asked to partner with the students on this.

Meanwhile, the students are designing materials,

including T-shirts, with messages such as "Got choices" (a play on "Got Milk?") and "No drugs are going to pass these lips."

Anderson is also working with the students on another innovative outreach avenue: parents of middle schoolers. Programs for spring music events will be include substance abuse information for parents to read.

"It's one way of telling parents, 'You're the number one person your kids will listen to,'" noted Anderson.

Keep an eye out for these and other examples of projects that make use of the creativity of youth in getting out to peers and the community some messages that we can all learn from.

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Parkdale third graders sing "12 Disaster Days of Christmas"

Welcome to your sing-able Christmas gift list. What follows is an emergency rendition of “12 Days of Christmas” – for outfitting your home or car in case of snow storm, earthquake, flood or other emergency. Read it as a simple list, or sing it to the tune of “12 Days” – you know, as in “ … and a partridge in a pear tree…” Not to make light of it, but the song is a familiar framework for a set of gift ideas that you could consider gathering together, even if the recipient already owns items such as a bunch of coats, tire chains and flashlights. Stores throughout the Gorge are stocked up on all these items. Buying all 12 days might be prohibitive, but here are three ideas for checking any of the dozen off your list (notations follow, 1-12.) The gift items needed to stay warm, dry and safe are also coded to suggest items in your abode (A) in your car (C) or both (B). 12 Gallons of Water (A) 11 Family meals (B) 10 Cans of propane (A) 9 Hygiene bags (B) 8 Packs of batteries (A) 7 Spare coats (B) 6 Bright red flares (C) 5 Cozy blankets (B) 4 Tire chains (C) 3 Flashlights (B) 2 cell phone chargers (B) 1 And a crush-proof first aid kit (B) Price ranges? Here’s a few quotes for days Three, Two, Four and Nine: n A family gift of flashlights (three will run $15-30, Hood River Supply, Tum-A-Lum) n Cell phone chargers (two will run $30-60) n Tire chains (basic set, $30, Les Schwab, returnable if unused for the winter) n Family meals ($100 or so should cover the basics for three or four reasonably well-fed days) n The home kit should be kept in a handy place near an exit, and remember that water needs to be replenished every few months. If you have a solid first aid kit already, switch out the gift idea with “and-a-sto-o-u-t- tub-for it-all …” Otherwise, it’s a case of assembling your home or car kits and making sure all members of the family know what the resources are and how to use them (ie flares and propane). Emergency situations are at worst life-threatening, at best deeply uncomfortable if you and your family are left without power for an extended period, or traveling and find yourself in a situation where you need to wait out a storm, lengthy traffic delay, or other crisis. Notes on the 12 gift ideas: 12 – Gallons of water: that’s one per person in a four-member family to last for three days, the recommended minimum to be prepared for utility outages. 11 – Easy-open packaged goods, energy bars, dried food and nuts are good things to include for nutrition. Think of what your family of four needs for three days to stay fortified and hydrated (see number 12). Can-opener also recommended 10 – If you have a propane camping stove, keep extra fuel handy. 9 – Hygiene bags: put packaged moistened towelettes, toilet paper, and plastic ties in large garbage bags (for personal sanitation) Resource list courtesy of Hood River County Emergency Management, Barbara Ayers, manager/ 541-386-1213. The county also reminds residents to Get a Kit, Make A Plan to connect your family if separated, and Stay Informed. See www.co.hood-river.or.us to opt-in for citizen alerts. Enlarge

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