It's getting to be that time of year. Prom season is right around the corner and the temptation for our younger folks to go out and party will be present as it's always been. I wish I could say from a personal angle that I was one of those kids who was always on the right path when I was that age, but as it's been told over and over, I was one of the group was was out securing the party supplies for everyone. As a teen, we're all 10 feet tall and bullet proof, but a few years under your belt...you see just how very young the teen years are and just how much risk and gravity are attached to some of the bad decisions that were made, and you have to add in a lot of gratuity that through those bad decisions, nothing bad really happened.
Today, it seems the stakes are so much higher for our young people. Back in the day, you got caught with some booze or maybe pulled over driving...you got an $80 MIP ticket or a call went home to your parents to come and get you off the road with the police pretty much leaving it up to them to give you the "what for". Today, getting pulled over drunk driving will cost you $7000-$10,000 bucks and it's not a problem that you just pay the fine and move on from. We have come to a point in society where we know the dangers of teen drinking are a lot more damaging than just a financial hit too. The development of the young brain is still going on and the introduction of alcohol inhibits the proper growth as well as offers an early crutch in the ability to deal with situations by offering an easy way out.
In Muskegon, we have the ALI Program, which is conducted by The Health Project, a community coalition of Mercy Health. The Health Project is also a sponsor of The Muskegon Channel. It's a group of law enforcement officers and concerned citizens who's mission is to reduce underage drinking and alcohol related injuries in Muskegon county by giving teens and parents the educational tools needed to make better choices and lead to a healthier and safer community. There is the educational effort as well as the enforcement portion of things, where they will send a decoy into retailers to try and purchase alcohol, the decoy is underage but not carrying a fake ID, to make sure that the retailer is abiding by the rules. This will be going on in the month of April in Muskegon County.
I met up with Shane Brown of the Muskegon County Sheriff's Office and Sara Delarosa to talk about the work they do to help prevent underage drinking as well as how this decoy operation works. Take a listen to our chat.
It's hard to look back over some of the personal choices I made as a young person. The risk doesn't seem to carry the weight it does when you see life through the eyes of the invincible young person. But with a few years under your belt and a few years away from alcohol now, man...some of the chances I took were enormus. The fact that I never was hurt, or hurt anyone was a miracle and today, to lend a hand to help young people avoid the mistakes I made....the very least I can do. Parents, please know what your kids are doing. Kids...please know that all of this goes on because adults care. We've already made the mistakes and all we hope is that you can avoid the same things we messed up on. It's really that simple. You can connect with Muskegon ALI on Facebook at the link below for more information.