For five days in August, Kelley and I got to escape the four walls of our office for an underage drinking prevention conference in (on-and-off) sunny Orlando, FL. The trip was especially exciting and special for us because we brought along four students from Morgan – PaulMichael, Miranda, Monica and Riley. They are all members of a new student group in Clinton, Reality Even Affects Clinton Teens (REACT). Not only will they be sharing their experiences and insights from the conference with their peers, but all of you will also get a glimpse into what they took away from the workshops and time spent with other students dedicated to living an empowered, positive lifestyle.
We’ll begin with PaulMichael, a sophomore.
Recently I was given the opportunity to attend the Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention (OJJDP) 13th National Enforcement of Underage Drinking Laws (EUDL) Leadership Conference in Orlando, Florida. The conference was not only very informative and educational, but, it was also a chance to bring new experiences, and people into my life.
During the conference I was given a choice of many different workshops that I could attend. One of the most interesting and ‘up-beat’ workshops that I chose to attend was called Music, Media, and Marketing: 3 M’s Beyond the Beat. With the media being a large influence in the way society lives today, I found this workshop to be the most relevant and important to my knowledge and way of life.
Ever listen to a song on the radio and think, “What the hell are my kids listening to?” , or from the kid’s perspective, “Why would I listen to Bon Jovi tell me about making a memory, when I have Katy Perry telling me about all my radical memories from last Friday night?” Obviously music is much different from twenty/thirty years ago, but are the ‘messages’ much different?
During the 3 M’s Beyond the Beat workshop the speaker had told participants that most of the songs played and produced today have a ‘secret’ or ‘code’ message. He (the speaker) also said some of the ‘good-‘ol-days’ songs have code messages, too. For example, the song “Bottoms Up” by Trey Songz (featuring Nicki Minaj) is about a male seducing a woman by first having her become intoxicated with (large amounts of) alcohol. When she’s done drinking the shots or alcohol, she must put her cup upside down, hence the title of the song, “Bottoms Up!” Once she is drunk, and ‘easy-going’ her own bottom must go up, need I say more (no.) This song uses the term ‘bottoms up’ as a secret or code message for many different actions, including drinking and sex; it never quite states these actions directly, but through the term ‘bottoms up’ the artist gets the message across. I can’t only share how my generation of music has shown this form of sharing a message; so let us take a step back to the days of The Beatles.
“Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds”; a great song, but it has a secret message. This song describes the feelings of using the drug LSD. When the song was originally released, the drug, LSD, was very popular and was paid vast amounts of attention to in the media.
Now that I have learned this information, what do I do with it? First, find and research data/statics. For example, 15% of 8th graders, and 35% of tenth graders have reported having a drink in the last year (Note: this is a national statistic we were told at the conference). Once we have the information, then its campaign time! First we find who the target audience is, if applicable. Then find a creative and unique method to give and share this information to the public. Finally we educate the community with the information. By this point we should see change, which is an excellent thing.
With the new Morgan School club REACT (Reality Even Affects Clinton Teens), Morgan Peer Advocates, and the town’s First Selectman’s Task Force, we plan to create, begin, and prevent under-age drinking and substance abuse prevention projects, to make a difference in the community. So join the community and help us, think change, make change, and be the change to underage alcohol abuse prevention.