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Friday Night Live Youth Mobilize to Make a Difference

Young people in Friday Night Live (FNL) programs throughout the county recently participated in campaigns to inform youth about the dangers of underage drinking, encourage them to remain alcohol free, and promote alternatives.  

According to the National Institutes of Health, adolescent alcohol use remained steady during the pandemic despite barriers caused by the stay-at-home orders and youth not being of age to purchase alcohol legally. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said that rates of drinking among high school students have generally been declining in recent decades, but alcohol is still the most used substance among young people and youth access to alcohol remains a serious public health issue.

Through two separate efforts, FNL youth members worked to address the environmental conditions, specifically social norms, that promote underage drinking and youth access to alcohol, and sought to build partnerships with their neighbors, peers, and local stakeholders to create positive changes in their community.  

Young people in Elevated Youth Group from Canyon Hills High School, Activists for a Better Community Youth Council, and Be The Resistance of Oceanside High School FNL recently concluded a year-long campaign to tackle the issue of underage drinking by shifting social norms and perceptions of youth alcohol use. Through their Positive Social Norms Campaign, FNL members launched a multi-media initiative to highlight the stories of their peers who are choosing healthy behaviors and remaining alcohol free to encourage others to do the same.

Students developed social media messages, youth-targeted posters, adult-targeted educational materials, and public service announcements to promote healthy behaviors, safe alternatives for fun, and healthy coping mechanisms. In addition to the positive social norm messages, youth educated community members and students on the risks and dangers of underage drinking.

Youth members from three local youth groups, Making Changes a STARPAL program, Escondido Youth in Action, and Students Together Against Alcohol and Drugs, also concluded a year-long campaign to reduce underage drinking by building partnerships with local vendors to reduce youth access to alcohol. 

The collaboration of local retailers and local teens may seem odd, but it is a partnership that can impact youth health outcomes across  San Diego County.

Students conducted store assessments, provided merchant education on preventative safety measures to restrict access for youth under 21, and informed retailers of the consequences of alcohol sales to minors. Young people in FNL also hosted Spread the Word activities to inform potential adult consumers of the legal ramifications of supplying alcohol to minors and initiated a social media campaign to educate and engage fellow teens. The groups also hosted townhall meetings to inform peers, parents, and other stakeholders on how to join the effort to reduce underage drinking. 

Friday Night Live, a California program started in 1984, is a youth development program that promotes healthy lifestyles free of alcohol, tobacco, or other substance use among youth.  

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