At the root of it all | CraigDailyPress.com

At the root of it all

Grassroots campaign to curb youth drinking begins Tuesday

Joshua Roberts

— Organizers of an upcoming local campaign designed to limit underage drinking are angling for participation from key areas – health, mental health, education, law enforcement and the judicial system.

But, without representation from a vital demographic, it’s questionable how effective the campaign can be, they said.

“Parents,” said Diane Miller, coordinator of the Northwest Colorado Community Health Project “I really think they’re the most important piece.”

Formed by a three-year, $187,500 grant from the Colorado Trust foundation, the Community Health Project built a subcommittee, the Youth Wellness Initiative. In turn, the Wellness Initiative set sights on underage drinking, a problem Miller believes to be a more pressing issue than teen drug use.

“Underage drinking is by far a larger problem in terms of number of kids it affects,” she said.

“We want to make a difference in this one specific area.”

Recommended Stories For You

The Wellness Initiative launches its Moffat County campaign in full – the group already had been sponsoring newspaper and radio advertisements – with a meeting Tuesday at the Moffat County High School library. The meeting, which is open to the public and, more specifically, parents, will run from 6 to 7:30 p.m.

Parents can be as involved in the campaign as they want to be, Miller said. Their contributions can be limited to simply giving feedback or going all in as an organizer, she said.

A similar meeting a month ago in Steamboat Springs drew 30 parents, a number organizers are hopeful for in Moffat County.

The campaign will focus on parent responsibility, community education and limiting youth access to alcohol. At its core will be a grassroots approach, Miller said.

And that’s not a bad thing, she added.

“Grassroots means the powers of the citizenry, really,” Miller said. “It (gives) the power to the parents, and stakeholders in the community who care about kids.”

Agencies participating in the Wellness Initiative’s campaign include the Northwest Colorado Visiting Nurse Association, Craig Mental Health, Yampa Valley Community Foundation and the Grand Futures Prevention Coalition.

Miller said many parents view underage drinking as a problem limited to safety behind the wheel. Some may think that condoning drinking, but taking teens keys away, is enough to keep them safe from the dangers of alcohol use, she said.

Not true.

Drinking at an early age can foster dependency now and later on, and hinder physical and emotional development, Miller said.

Tuesday’s meeting is a way to not only get parents involved in the campaign, but bridge what is a “huge gap in understanding” about teen drinking, organizers said.