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04-26-12 Underage Drinking Program Seeks Venues
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Executive Director, Community Services Board
Debbie Burcham

Community Services Board 

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2012 News Releases

For Immediate Release

Underage Drinking Program Seeks Venues

April 27, 2012
Mental Health Support Services

CHESTERFIELD COUNTY, VA — Substance Abuse Free Environment Inc., or SAFE, Chesterfield County’s community coalition to prevent drug and alcohol abuse, seeks to partner with public schools, other nonprofit organizations and the faith-based community in Chesterfield County and Colonial Heights to host Café Conversations.

This fun, interactive program for fifth- through eighth-grade students and their parents presents facts, dispels myths, fosters open communication and empowers youths to make positive choices pertaining to underage alcohol consumption.

During the program, parents and students share a meal; participate in an energetic, humorous, interactive presentation by Dr. Linda Hancock, director of the Wellness Resource Center at Virginia Commonwealth University, and then students separate from their parents to learn about alcohol and its effects on the brain; while parents have candid discussions about the prevalence, dangers and legal consequences of underage drinking.

Responses from parents and youths have been overwhelmingly positive. One parent indicated that negative peer pressure is eliminated by dispelling the myth that 'everyone's doing it.’ Students appreciated the instruction on refusal skills — how to say no when offered alcohol — and the role playing that helps them develop those skills. Student responses include: Awesome! Thumbs up! and I wish I'd have brought my friends.

Wayne Frith, executive director of SAFE, stresses the power a community holds for affecting positive change when it discovers its values and honestly discusses and addresses the issues.

“If our community stops treating underage drinking and substance abuse as a dirty secret and begins to have open, honest and transparent discussions about it, we will see a shift to stronger, healthier families with fewer horror stories of mayhem on the highways and youths making risky decisions,” Frith said. “It is all about grass roots changes in perception.’”

For more information about hosting Café Conversations, call 804-796-7100 or email safe@chesterfieldsafe.org.

Picture - During Café Conversations at Chester Christian Church on April 15, Melissa Ackley, manager of Prevention Services at the Chesterfield County Department of Mental Health Support Services, facilitated student discussions of future goals and aspirations and how bad choices related to drugs and alcohol can have a detrimental impact on their plans. The evening concluded with students rejoining their parents in the main sanctuary to continue the conversation about the negative impacts of substance abuse. Before leaving, the parents were invited to stay connected with SAFE through hosting a Parent Pod in their community and/or church small group and by visiting SAFE’s social networking sites.

Cafe Conversations

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