This is just one of 12 school districts in MN that DHS-ADAD is currently funding to do a comprehensive community approach to ATOD prevention – And while they focus on the positive that ‘Most’ youth aren’t using, they never forget the seriousness of or fail to provide services for the youth that are experimenting with ATOD use.
Most of Us (aren’t using)
By Kelly Virden
Pine River Journal Editor
If you’ve driven into Pine River from the south on Highway 371 you’ve probably seen the new “Most of Us,” billboard by the Trail Break.
And, more likely than not, you thought: “What’s Most of Us?”>
Most of Us is an effort by the Pine River-Backus Family Center’s Alcohol Tobacco Other Drug (ATOD) program to reduce underage drinking using research about what compels teens to make the decisions they do.
Namely, teens surveyed think that alcohol plays a larger part in their peer’s lives than it actually does. This gap, between reality (most youth are not drinking) and perception (everybody drinks) is what the program hopes to narrow.
Kelly Felton, ATOD coordinator, and Leslie Bouchonville, PR-B Family Center director attended “Most of Us” training in St. Paul this month, with nine other communities participating in the program.
The Minnesota Department of Human Services-Chemical Health Division provides $137,000 annually for participating communities. The grant goes through June 2011.
Most of Us provides a different outlook on reducing underage drinking, Felton said. “It does not use scare tactics, (but) positive community norms to reduce underage drinking.
“With this campaign, it’s a different philosophy: most of us aren’t using,” she said.
And, they have the statistics to support it.
In February 2008, 7-12th grade students at PR-B were anonymously surveyed about their behaviors and their perceptions of other’s behaviors.
# 61 percent of students believe that drinking alcohol is never a good thing for anyone their age to do. Yet, only 26 percent of students believe that their peers agree.
# And, 64 percent of students believe that getting drunk is never a good thing for anyone their age to do. Yet, only 26 percent of students believe that their peers agree.
# 60 percent of students would rather not drink alcohol when hanging out with their friends.
After collecting the statistics, the next step in the Most of Us program was market testing.
Felton goes into PR-B classrooms to work on developing a message and images that make sense to the youth.
These messages and images will be formed into posters to be put in the school – and likely the community.
Felton is working with students in the Teens Leading the Way group to help develop the Most of Us marketing.
“The kids are excited to help; they’re excited about the process,” Felton said. “It’s their time to have a voice.”
A public service announcement video is underway that will play at Bear Pause Theater in Hackensack, and Felton is working on developing a trivia game. There will also be radio ads that will play during halftime at sporting events in PR-B.
Students are also helping Felton to extend the Most of Us message to popular networking sites like Facebook and MySpace.
And, Felton will work with the high school to administer another Most of Us survey in February to gather new data.
Motor vehicle crashes remain the number one cause of death among youth ages 15-20, according to Students Against Destructive Decisions (SADD). There were 7,460 youth motor vehicle deaths in 2005 (drivers and passengers)
And 28 percent of 15- to 20-year-old drivers who were killed in motor vehicle crashes in 2005 had been drinking.
“Why wouldn’t we want to participate in reducing underage drinking,” Bouchonville said. “The earlier (youth) get involved in drinking the more likely they are to use in the future.”
Bouchonville added that they would appreciate the opportunity to talk to the community about Most of Us.
If there are organizations that are interested in hearing about Most of Us campaign, they should contact Felton at (218) 587-4292.