WMU News

Conference aims at deterring underage drinking

Oct. 24, 2000

KALAMAZOO -- Western Michigan University and the National Council on Alcoholism and Drug Dependence of Michigan will sponsor an underage drinking prevention conference from 9 a.m. to noon Friday, Oct. 27, in the University's Fetzer Center.

About 200 students from White Pigeon, Mattawan and Climax-Scotts high schools are expected to attend the by-invitation-only conference, which also is being supported by the Michigan Liquor Control Commission and the Kmart Family Foundation.

The 9 a.m. keynote address will be delivered by Gina Firth, director of alcohol and drug education at the University of Notre Dame and the Indiana regional coordinator for the Network of Colleges and Universities Committed to the Elimination of Drug and Alcohol Abuse. Firth began working in the field of alcohol and other drug issues in 1987 as a prevention educator and counselor for preschool and elementary school children and also has worked at the middle school, high school and community levels.

Break-out sessions at the event will demonstrate through open dialogue with the high school students that there is peer support for choosing not to drink until age 21. It also will allow these participating students to interact with WMU college students who are members of Students Socializing Sober or S3 and Western's Community for Alcohol Responsibility and Education or WeCARE, as well as with students their own age who are members of the Neighborhood Youth and Parent Prevention Partnership's East-P Performance Troupe based in Lansing.

"Many high school students see only the media portrayal that college students drink--a lot--to have fun," says Amanda Menzies, development director for NCADD/Michigan. "We're going to take this opportunity to give them the facts. Not all college students go out and get drunk every weekend. In fact, most don't. There's a lot of peer support available to teens for making responsible decisions regarding alcohol."

WMU's S3 and WeCARE programs both promote healthy decision making regarding alcohol use. S-3 provides a network of supportive peers for first-year WMU students who want to socialize without the use of alcohol. WeCARE is the University's Students Against Drunk Driving chapter. It provides factual information about alcohol and other drugs, empowers students to behave responsibly, and helps those with problems to locate appropriate counseling and assistance programs. The East-P Performance Troupe is an impromptu theatre group that performs skits that teach healthy alternatives to tobacco, alcohol, drugs, violence and sex.

Media contact: Jeanne Baron, 616 387-8400, jeanne.baron@wmich.edu

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