Curb the urge

Published 8:43 am Tuesday, April 15, 2014

WINDSOR – Its prom and graduation season, a time when underage drinking is almost always on the rise.

This month, the Bertie County ABC Board is partnering with Bertie County Public Schools to bring to middle and high school students a new initiative from the North Carolina ABC Commission.

ABC Boards across the state have been challenged to come up with an initiative and Bertie’s ABC Board unveiled theirs at the April regular monthly meeting of the county’s Board of Commissioners.

“The staff of the (state’s) ABC Commission preparing this gave a challenge to your (local) ABC Board to come up with this initiative,” said Bertie County ABC Board chairman Miles Davis.

In the months ahead, the ABC Commission will be working with local, state and non-profit groups engaged in education and prevention efforts. The Commission plans to augment this work of local initiatives with a statewide campaign designed to build awareness and provide resources to parents and adults involved with youth in the state

Earlier this month the state Commission announced plans to help reduce underage drinking in North Carolina and this date was vital because April is Alcohol Awareness Month.

The state ABC Commission is using this month to begin planning a sustained statewide initiative to raise awareness about underage drinking and equip parents and school-aged youth with resources to help fight the problem.

Underage drinking in North Carolina is a problem and begins earlier than most believe. According to a 2009 national survey on Drug Use and Health, 14.3 percent of adolescents in North Carolina have consumed alcohol in the past month, and 8.9 percent engaged in binge drinking. Additionally, 39 percent of eighth graders and 72 percent of 12th graders report that they have tried alcohol at least once in their lifetime.

“We are bringing the Save-A-Life Tour, a national program that works on military bases as well as other public schools, to Bertie County,” Davis added. “We would be the first county in North Carolina to present such a program and this program is going to be an example for the (state) ABC Commission as well as other ABC boards across the state.”

The Save-A-Life Tour is considered the country’s most advanced high-impact alcohol awareness program.

It features multi-million dollar drinking and driving simulators, the only simulators in the nation that give participants a completely realistic, sober perspective on the effects of driving while intoxicated.

With its massive tour posters, high intensity videos playing on huge monitors, and charismatic show presenters engaging both participants and onlookers alike, its website claims that no one that experiences the Save a Life Tour will leave unaffected.

“Just call us and ask why we’re considered the ‘shock jocks of anti-drunk driving’,” says Frank Mitidieri of parent company Kramer Entertainment.

Davis asked the Bertie Commissioners to designate May 9 as “Save-A-Life Day”, the day the tour will be featured at Bertie High School.

“This is going to be an excellent program, especially before the prom to talk about the dangers of drinking and to prevent underage drinking,” said Davis. “The ABC Board will keep the Commissioners updated about this program through the county manager’s office.”

But it won’t just stop there.

“With this program they’re going to bring the ‘Drunk Mobile’ where they put goggles on the students and let them drive a golf cart like they’re drunk,” said ABC Board member William Freeman. “That’s one positive way of teaching kids not to drink and drive and what underage drinking will do.”

“ABC stands for Alcoholic Beverage Control,” Freeman added. “This is the ‘control’ end of it.  We’re not trying to make money or to advertise. We’re just trying to control the drinking.”