Hindman – All counties feel the effects of underage drinking, if not in a personal way then in the thousands of dollars that the use of alcohol by minors costs Kentucky every year.

During April 2011’s Alcohol Awareness Month, the local Youth In Actions (YIA) students from Knott County Central conducted a Mothers Against Drunk Driving sponsored event called “Sticker Shock” at our local IGA Grocery Store and Rite Aid at Holly Hills Shopping Center. The students placed both blue and green stickers on known alcohol mixers that serve to remind adults that they have a great effect on their youth’s choice to use or turn down alcohol.

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Nine Youth In Action students: Kennedy King, Brynnan Jacobs, Paige Slone, Ashley Cornett, Angelina Smith, Corey Short, Brian Catron, Dylan Combs, Blake Shrum placed over 1,000 stickers on multipacks of pop as well as on boxes of various juices. There were two Kentucky State Police Troopers present also, who placed a “No Way To Go” Sticker on the freezer door where juices were stored at two local retailers; IGA and Rite Aid. Table tents, which display a picture of some of our YIA students as well as messages about how parents are the greatest influence in their youth’s life and how the brain is affected by alcohol use, were placed at both retail locations as well as at the Opportunity Center’s lobby (Knott County Library and Hazard Community College, Knott County Branch).

Students were accompanied by Lisa Cox, adult coordinator for the KCC UNITE and Youth In Action group and two Kentucky State Troopers, Tony Watts and Jody Sims who were present as the law enforcement representatives for the Sticker Shock and No Way To Go programs and from the Knott Drug Abuse Council (KDAC): Lola Patterson, Amber Combs, Donna Hardin, and Jessica Elsea were coordinating the program efforts.

Both Troopers Sims and Watts had conducted “No Way to Go” trainings with students at Knott County Central High School and Hindman Student Ministries during Alcohol Awareness month.

“My job is to work to raise awareness of the dangers associated with underage drinking. The MADD “Sticker Shock” program is a wonderful method of reaching all age groups” said the KDAC Underage Drinking Prevention Coordinator, Jessica Elsea.

The point of this process is to get the Youth involved in the prevention of underage drinking and to raise the communities’ awareness of this issue. The stickers read “Underage Drinking can cause permanent damage to the developing brain, and lead to injury or even death: Keep Alcohol Away from Youth. It’s the Law, And It’s Your Responsibility.” Or “ 65% of Kids Who Drink Alcohol Say they get it from their own home: Your Kids next drink might be right next to the milk. Don’t let your house be the place of temptation. Lock it, dump it, track it, or give it away.”

In this Sticker Shock event, the youth visited two local retail stores; however, we have a set a goal of providing at least 80% of our local stores with table top tents to spread the word about underage drinking. We will also conduct another “Sticker Shock” program next year and hope to have even more retail stores involved.

Alcohol is the No.1 drug of choice among youth, killing more youth than all illicit drug combined. These statistics demonstrate that underage drinking is not an issue that can be ignored; it is far to harmful to our youth.

YIA teams are taught to look at the whole environment that often condones and contributes to underage drinking, and then look for community-based solutions to change people’s behavior. The goal of YIA is to reduce social and retail availability of alcohol to minors and to ensure enforcement of underage drinking laws. Visit www.youthinaction.org or www.madd.org

If you are interested in joining the efforts to combat underage drinking and substance abuse we would like to invite you to join our local coalition, the Knott Drug Abuse Council. Contact us at 785-5503 or 785-9888 you can also find us on Facebook. We meet at noon on the second Tuesday of every month at the Knott Judicial Center, the second floor courtroom. All are welcome to attend.

(Note: Some information contained in this release was provided by the Kentucky Chapter of Mothers Against Drunk Driving, and Tara McGuire, Youth Program Coordinator in the state office for MADD).