This past weekend I attended the Rio Grande Safe Communities Coalition's Zero Alcohol for Youth Training in El Paso. The room was filled with teenagers from all over the city representing their schools and youth groups. The purpose of the training was to start a youth coalition against underage drinking, or CARE group (communities against reckless endangerment). We were given a couple of statistics throughout the day that proved to be very educational. For instance, did you know that Texas is the number one state for alcohol related crashes? Also, alcohol is the first choice of drug for teens and the user is three times more likely to develop an alcohol dependency at a younger age.
Statistics aside, these underage students and I, being the ripe age of 22, did an introduction exercise with our own personalized fish to show our individuality. We then moved to what we like and dislike about our city, and talked about a way to take action against the less becoming attributes of El Paso.
The overall consensus of what the students like best about El Paso was its restaurants, Traditional family values, the Christmas lights, holiday parades, our border with Mexico, UTEP, Ascarate Park, the mountains and a particular spot on the mountains, scenic drive. What El Paso needs to work on is its bullying, trash, gangs, violence, drugs, drug war, underage drinking, corruption, peer pressure, drinking and driving, and the drama.
Although El Paso is highly ranked for being one of the safest cites in the US, there is still much consideration to be taken if our youth thinks we need some fixing. That's where the coalition comes in, the focus was on underage drinking and they showed the students how to plan, and hold focus groups, and spread the word of their cause. They held mock focus groups, which were a favorite, and understood the many steps needed to be taken in order to make your point.
Overall, our Saturday morning was very educational, full of great refreshments, and eager minds willing to make a difference in their community.