As prom and graduation season is approaching, EmPoWER Youth Advisory Board, coordinated by EmPoWER Somerset, is continuing their virtual education series for teens and parents with “Think Don’t Drink” on Tuesday, May 4, 2021 from 6:00 to 7:30 pm. Registration is required to receive the zoom link for this free event and participating teens must be accompanied by a parent or adult caregiver. Teens who attend this event will have a chance to win door prizes and giveaways including a pair of Apple Airpods.
The 2019 CDC Youth Risk Behavior Survey found the 29% of high school students drank alcohol and 17% of high school students rode in a car with someone who had been drinking. This event is being held to raise awareness about how the potential consequences of underage drinking and binge drinking can negatively impact both teens and their parents and caregivers.
Keynote speaker Karen Wall will share a personal story of the loss of her son Steven at age 22 in 2010 when his vehicle was hit by a drunk driver. Wall shares her story through public speaking engagements like this one in the hope that it will leave an impression on young people and parents alike who are considering including alcohol in teen celebrations.
“If hearing my family’s story changes the actions of just one person, lives can be saved and families not be shattered,” said Wall.
Other featured speakers include Somerset County Prosecutor Michael Robertson and attorney Jeffrey S. Bell of the firm Golden, Rothschild, Spagnola, Lundell, Boylan, Garubo & Bell, P.C.
Robertson will share a law enforcement perspective on the possible legal penalties that both youth and parents can face as a consequence of underage drinking. From a civil perspective, Bell will explore other liabilities that parents and other caregivers can face if they host or allow underage drinking. A question and answer session will follow the presentations.
“I am honored that EmPoWER Somerset has asked me to participate in this virtual discussion to offer some insight about the potential civil liability facing parents or caregivers and young adults who allow underage drinking in their homes,” said Bell. “This is an important topic as we transition back to in person celebrations this coming prom and graduation season.”
In addition to the partnering speakers, EmPoWER Somerset is collaborating with the Safe Communities Coalition of Somerset / Hunterdon and New Jersey Department of Health to make this event possible.
Empower Somerset works to empower individuals and families to make positive lifestyle choices by promoting healthy communities through education, collaboration, and connections to resources. The agency coordinates the EmPoWER Youth Advisory Board, a group of approximately 25 middle and high school student leaders from throughout central New Jersey working to address challenging issues that impact their generation. Katie Hoben and Aarti Patel, Empower Somerset Health and Wellness Program Associates, are the co-advisors of the Empower YAB, providing guidance and support to the student members. This event is part of their ongoing virtual education series for teens and parents.
“Often, we hear parents say that they want to host the party so they can feel like they are more in control, to make sure that teenagers don’t drive or put themselves in harm’s way. The flaw with this idea is that they are in harm’s way as soon as alcohol enters the picture,” said Empower Somerset Director of Health and Wellness Kristen Schiro. “That’s why it was so important for us to address this topic, especially now at this time of year. Parents have the best of intentions, but the research shows that the best possible outcomes happen when drinking is postponed until the legal age of 21.”