Town and Village

Community can keep prom, graduation season safe for all

TOWNSHEND — As families gather to celebrate during prom and graduation season, it is important for adults to stay vigilant with alcohol use and make sure alcohol is not easily accessible to young people. This is why West River Valley Thrives (Thrives), a local substance use prevention coalition, invites community members to participate in two national programs during this time of year.

“By sharing the responsibility of creating safe celebrations as a community and educating ourselves and our children about the dangers of underage drinking, we can keep our kids safe,” the organization said in a news release.

You may have noticed the signs popping up around the West River Valley. That is because Thrives has launched its annual lawn sign campaign to promote prevention of teen alcohol use during prom and graduation season.

“By participating in this campaign, we are joining other families in a highly visible, community-wide reminder to show support for teens as they make healthy choices while celebrating an important rite of passage,” said Newfane parent Gibbs Rehlen. “We chose to put a sign in our yard because we care about Vermont youth, their lives, and the health of our overall community.”

New stickers are also visible at local retailers where alcoholic beverages are purchased. The stickers remind community members not to buy alcohol for anyone under the age of 21. “Sticker Shock” is a national program in which youth and caring adults raise public awareness about the cost of providing alcohol to minors by placing stickers on beer, wine coolers, and any other alcohol products that appeal to underage drinkers.

According to the 2019 Youth Risk Behavior Survey (YRBS), 70% of Windham County highschoolers think it's easy to get alcohol from other people or their homes.

West River Valley Thrives works with local youth groups to implement Sticker Shock twice a year, during end-of-year holidays and end-of-school celebrations. On May 18, Thrives teamed up with Scout BSA Troop 428 to complete a Sticker Shock project as part of their community service requirements.The stores included in this round were River Bend Farm Market in Townshend, Harmonyville Country Store, The Newfane Store, Wardsboro Country Store, West River Provisions in Jamaica, and West Wardsboro Store.

Elon, a participating scout stated, “I wanted to do [this program] because it's a good thing to do. It can keep kids safe and make it harder to access alcohol.”

Scout Leader Jennifer Matheson sees this as more than a community service project. “It gives [the Scouts] ownership over this important issue, to stand up and say it's not okay to provide alcohol to kids.”

Thrives staff offers thanks to all who participated in these programs, including local retailers, “for being models for responsible beverage sales and use by encouraging all consumers of legal age to commit to keeping alcohol out of the hands of minors.”

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