'Parents are in denial'

Committee to focus on underage drinking, ask parents to get involved

With parents commuting to work daily and dinner being kept warm in the microwave, Grand Futures director Chad Kiniston believes teenagers are filling their days with unhealthy activities.

"Growing up in a small agricultural and farming community limits extracurricular activities for teenagers," Kiniston said.

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Such lifestyles can promote underage drinking, according to Grand Futures Prevention Coalition, a local organization designed to prevent underage substance abuse.

In 2005, Grand Futures did a survey on underage drinking with 11th- and 12th-graders at Moffat County High School; 68 percent of them reported drinking alcohol in the last 30 days.

These numbers prove something is missing, Kiniston said noting the missing piece to this puzzle is parental involvement.

"Parents are in denial. Numbers don't lie, and underage drinking is the leading health problem in Craig, and knowing that statistic should grab people's attention," Kiniston said.

Efforts to stop underage drinking have been a high priority for Moffat, Routt and Rio Blanco counties.

Getting the parents in----volved is the first step of the Northwest Colorado Wellness Initiative Committee's upcoming campaign. The campaign will be a cooperative effort by Grand Futures, The Northwest Colorado Visiting Nurse Association and Colorado West Regional Mental Health Center.

Past efforts to sustain underage drinking have not reached expectations, Kiniston said. So, how does this campaign differ?

"In the past, we took national statistics and applied them to our community," Kiniston said. "Now, we are taking it from the roots where the problem lies. We want the parents' input. They are the ones dealing with the actual issues."

The Wellness Initiative Com--mittee is using the slogan, "Adults that host lose the most," to advertise the upcoming meeting. Diane Miller of the VNA is the project coordinator. She believes that parent participation alone is not the answer.

"It takes the combined efforts of the law enforcement, schools, city officials and parents to spread the word," Miller said. "If there is a weak link in this chain, the youth will find a way to drink."

A new set of educational materials will be developed based on the issues discussed by parents. They will target the problems specific to Craig.

"We need to find the tools to change the social norm that underage drinking is acceptable," Miller said.

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