Garbage trucks will carry warning against underage drinking

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Underage drinking can damage and alter a young person’s brain. If you don’t believe the science, then get the facts from your garbage truck driver.

Three city sanitation trucks in Springville are rolling around as mobile billboards, displaying underage drinking messages like “What parts of their brain don’t your kids need?” The trucks are similar to the 17 sanitation trucks in Salt Lake County advertising the same campaign.

“Parents are the best teachers of their children, and we really want parents to focus their attention on letting their children know that underage drinking is unacceptable,” said Ralph Becker, mayor of Salt Lake City, during a news conference to unveil the newly decorated trucks.

The campaign serves as a reminder that parents are the number one reason kids choose not to drink, with messages being delivered door-to-door, throughout our local neighborhoods. Other messages include: “Prevent Underage Drinking. The brain you save might be your kid’s.” “No underage drinking. Trust us, you’re going to need this.” “No underage drinking. A healthy brain comes in handy.”

“Parents may not know how important they are in setting clear boundaries and expectations. We have seen kids who got in trouble for underage drinking who were not sure how their parents felt about them using alcohol since they hadn’t talked about it,” said Suzy Young, coordinator of Art City Substance Abuse Prevention in Springville.

Research by Art City Substance Abuse Prevention said in Utah, binge drinking begins as early as sixth grade and yet more than 60 percent of Utah parents are unaware that sixth graders are even drinking. The research also said 45 percent of Utah children who begin drinking before the age of 13 will become alcohol-dependent.

“Parents, reach out to your children,” Becker said. “Talk to your children about the dangers of underage drinking, and do everything you can to try to prevent the horrible consequences we see all too often from underage drinking.”

In an effort to mobilize the community against underage drinking, local prevention experts in Springville are partnering with Art City Substance Abuse Prevention to build awareness of the problem and encourage parents to speak to their children about the harmful effects of alcohol on their developing brains.

These local efforts are part of a statewide campaign, ParentsEmpowered.org, focused on eliminating underage drinking in Utah. Its primary goals are to educate parents about the dangers of underage drinking and provide them with proven skills to communicate with their children about remaining alcohol-free. More information is available at www.ParentsEmpowered.org.

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