By Kathy Schwartzhoff, Mentoring Coordinator | 

Starting in June, Youth Mentoring at Helping Services for Youth & Families is spearheading an exciting campaign: “Talk. They Hear You.” This national campaign empowers parents to talk with children, as young as nine years old, about the dangers of underage drinking.

BASIC CONCEPT, DIRE IMPORTANCE

This campaign is relevant and vital because the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration’s (SAMHSA) latest report on underage drinking shows that more than a quarter of American youth engage in underage drinking. Although there has been progress in reducing the extent of underage drinking in recent years, the rates of underage drinking are still unacceptably high.  

“Talk. They Hear You.” raises parents’ and other caring adults’ awareness about these issues and arms them with information they need to start a conversation about alcohol before children become teenagers.

KEEP AN EYE & EAR OUT—PARENTS, CARING ADULTS, & MENTORS

Listen and watch for “Talk. They Hear You.” radio and media ads and printed information in retail stores, pizza places, and churches. “We want every caring adult to hear these messages and seize the moment to talk with youth about alcohol,” challenges Colinne McCann, the Iowa Department of Public Health Youth Mentoring AmeriCorps member. These moments, such as while preparing dinner or doing chores together, are natural opportunities for initiating the conversation about alcohol with the young person.  

McCann continues, “Helping Services is very excited to promote this campaign, especially because one of our goals for the youth in mentoring is to prevent substance use. Youth Mentoring is always encouraging adults to have meaningful conversations with young people. We hope some adults will be inspired by this campaign and become mentors.”

Any adult, involved in a youth’s life, can start the “Talk. They Hear You.” conversation. If you do not have a young person in your life to encourage, Youth Mentoring can connect you with one who is waiting to begin a new friendship with a trusted adult. Mentors initiate these important conversations and help youth aspire, achieve, and develop to their greatest potential.

MORE INFO IS AVAILABLE

For more tips and information on the campaign visit, www.underagedrinking.samhsa.gov.  For more information about SAMHSA, visit http://www.samhsa.gov/.

Finally, find out what mentoring is like or request to become a mentor at Helping Services’ website, www.helpingservices.org/mentoring. You can also reach out directly by calling 563-387-1720 or emailing mentoring@helpingservices.org.

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