Niskayuna eighth graders Rose Parisi (far right) and Olivia Kim, co-presidents of the local Medical Youth Alliance, deliver “Think, Don’t Drink” cards to Felthousen’s Florist in Schenectady.
continued This year, over 10,000 cards will be distributed statewide through the partnership with the Golub Corporation, and an additional 12,000 cards will be distributed to secondary schools and florists in communities statewide.
According to the Alliance, studies show 72 percent of teens have consumed alcohol by the end of high school and 37 percent have consumed alcohol by the end of eighth grade. Also, around 5,000 people under the age of 21 die as a result of underage drinking, according to the Alliance.
“The teenagers going to prom will see the card and think about their actions on prom,” Parisi said.
The group meets one or two times a month at the school and has about 15 active members. At the meetings, the members develop project ideas for volunteer efforts.
Another project the group took on was raising funds for The Quest for Grace Foundation toprovide foster parents with items for children. Through collecting bottles and cans it raised $400 and also donated 29 pairs of pajamas.
“Through this process we have met a lot of people and been able to help a lot of people in the community and it is really rewarding to us,” Kim said.
Larry Gillooley, director of physical education, health education and athletic departments at the Niskayuna Central School District, said it is important for teens to understand the consequences and dangers of drinking.
Gillooley said it is important to give students as many reminders as possible.
“We pass out a card to every student who buys a bid to the prom,” Gillooley said.
He said the school has its share of students that violate school codes for using alcohol and the district takes appropriate action to address the situations.
“Niskayuna does take it serious and those who do break the Student Code of Conduct or Athletic Code of Conduct we hold them to the intent of the code,” he said.
He added the district has held many community forums on the topic and has had exhibits showing the effects of drinking and driving. He said reaching kids earlier is important, too, because the message seems to be more effective.
Also, when the message doesn’t come from an adult it is more successful.
“When it is done by peers it seems more of an impact than when adults are saying it,” he said.