Teens Leading Change works to stem underage drinking
Alexander Wolf, reporter
Recently, Vashon stores have begun introducing stickers in their alcohol sections advising adults not to provide teens with alcohol. This campaign is the latest project headed by Teens Leading Change in their campaign to prevent teens from using illegal substances. Facing the prospect of an increase in teen drinking, this student organization aims to combat this issue in the local community.
Teens Leading Change (TLC) is an organization comprised of high school students. The group seeks to educate people on the dangers of substance use and works to support people in refusing drugs and alcohol.
Lisa Bruce, the Coalition Coordinator for VARSA, has been working with TLC to control teen alcohol consumption.
“TLC is not here to tell teens, ‘just say no,’ but to be encouraging and help support those who don’t use or don’t want to anymore,” Bruce said. “No judgment. Just compassion.”
TLC has recently been concerned about the prospect of teens consuming alcoholic beverages at home, which spurred the “It’s Not a Minor Issue” project.
The project consists of placing stickers in the alcohol sections of local retailers, informing customers that it is illegal to purchase alcohol for minors. Additionally, the sticker informs customers that purchasing alcohol for minors can result in a $5000 fine and up to 364 days in jail.
As part of Bruce’s work with TLC, she helps the student group pursue its goals by providing them with the assistance and resources needed to attend prevention conferences.
“We send TLC members to training like Prevention Summit in Yakima and to talk to our state and federal legislators in Olympia and Washington, D.C. about the need for more funding and services for youth substance use prevention, intervention, treatment, and recovery,” Bruce said.
One of the local businesses taking part in the project is IGA. When adults are found attempting to purchase alcohol for teens, they are refused sale and warned about the legal consequences of their actions.
“We tell them ‘you’re not buying alcohol today, not here.’ … We tell them that [it] is wrong,” Byron Cox, manager of IGA, said.
Nationally, teen alcohol usage is on the decline, and Bruce hopes that, with the efforts of local organizations, this trend will spread to Vashon as well.
“[Drinking] comes at a high cost. … The good news is that fewer teens are drinking less than they were 10 years ago,” Bruce said. “I like to think they are smarter and see through the hype.”