According to the CDC, the average child tries alcohol for the first time at age 12. Youth get drunk twice as fast as adults and have more trouble knowing when to stop, and adolescents may become addicted to alcohol much more quickly than adults because their brains are still developing until their mid-20s. The Safe and Sober Program is designed to give middle and high school students, parents, and teachers the information they need to prevent underage drinking, as well as educate area teenagers on the dangers of alcohol and drugs and how today’s choices can directly impact their future.
Safe and Sober is a three-part program designed to create a culture of change.
1) The high school program is two-fold. First, teens participate in a video-based presentation that shows the consequences of underage drinking and how it can change their future forever. Second, students are then asked to sign a pledge card to remain safe and sober until they are 21 years old. Students must take the card home and have a parent or guardian sign it so that they can be aware of the pledge being taken by their teenager.
2) The middle school program further engages the high school students who have taken the pledge. High school students share the reasons they took the pledge with each other, further promoting a high school culture in which alcohol is absent.
3) The parent program provides education to parents about the dangers and consequences of underage drinking, including alcohol’s effect on the developing brain. Parents are provided information that helps them set limits and expectations for their teenager about underage drinking.
When the program started in 2004, Kurt had two teenagers, so he knows all too well the pressure teens face. Kurt himself recalls how difficult those teenage years can be. “It’s so hard anymore,” he says. “When I was in school, beer and smoking cigarettes were the big challenge. Now, the pressures are far more dangerous: abuse of prescription medication, methamphetamines, and binge drinking.”