Youth drinking, drug use targeted in Vail Valley | VailDaily.com
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Youth drinking, drug use targeted in Vail Valley

Cristina Gair
Special to the Daily
Vail, CO Colorado

EAGLE COUNTY, Colorado ” The Eagle River Youth Coalition wants to prevent and reduce the use of alcohol and drugs by youth.

Coalition members ” such as nonprofits serving kids, schools, police, government, parents, youth, and business people ” are working together to promote healthy choices by young people.

The Youth Coalition’s mission is to assess and meet the changing needs of youth through the types of organizations mentioned above. One way it does this is by surveying kids from Eagle Valley, Battle Mountain and Red Canyon high schools to find out about what they’re doing and feeling. Since the first survey taken in 2000, underage drinking remains as one of the top problems facing teenagers.

According to Eagle County’s Colorado Healthy Kids Survey 2007-08, 29 percent of youth began drinking before age 13 (near the national average), and 54 percent began by 14. Drinking alcohol before 15 years of age can sometimes lead to addiction to alcohol and drugs later in life.

While Eagle County kids are drinking less frequently than other students in Colorado, those who do drink are drinking excessively. For example, more than a third, (32 percent) stated that they’d had five or more drinks of alcohol in a row in the last month, and 12 percent of students had at least one drink at school.

In part because many in the community believe the problem is bigger than the numbers portray, the Youth Coalition is hosting a town hall meeting from 5:30 p.m. to 8 p.m., Thursday at Berry Creek Middle School to discuss ways to prevent and reduce drinking and drug abuse.

Parents , meanwhile, have formed the Eagle County Parent Network. The coalition is working these parents to bring in speakers to educate the community. Recent speakers have discussed how parents, teachers and others can tell how much a kid is drinking and what they can do to stop it.

This problem isn’t going to be solved within the next year. It will require time, energy, and a commitment from individuals throughout the valley. The opportunity to volunteer and become part of the solution exists.

Cristina Gair is the executive director of The Eagle River Youth Coalition (949-9250, http://www.eagleyouth.org). This column about issues facing Eagle County’s youth will appear monthly. Gair can be reached at cgair@eagleyouth.org.


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