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 Friday Night Live Spreads Message of Healthy Living

The Friday Night Live Partnership is reaching more and more teens with its message of healthy living and positive choices.

In the last five years, the number of sites with active Friday Night Live clubs has gone from 25 to 65. Schools and community organizations throughout the county have the clubs along with Club Live at the middle school level.

The clubs started in Sacramento in 1984 in response to the number of young people dying or becoming injured in alcohol-related automobile crashes on Friday nights. They started in San Diego County in 1989.

In addition to the anti-drinking and driving message, the program engages youth in meaningful activities and opportunities that develop skills that prepare them for healthy lives as adults.

“Our approach is to get them understand how important the youth voice is,” said Sal Garcia a coordinator with the program. “You just give them a chance, and they will step up to the plate.”

San Diego County Office of Education employees facilitate the partnership locally, mentoring students, helping them start the clubs and guiding them in projects. They work hand-in-hand with young people throughout the county to promote positive youth leadership opportunities free of alcohol, tobacco, drugs, and violence.

The work is supported in part by a federal block grant administered by the County of San Diego Alcohol and Drug Services and the San Diego County Office of Education.

Garcia started off as a student in the program and is now working to help other students start clubs. The clubs helped him feel more connected to his peers and build strong relationships with them, he said.

Instead of telling the teens what to do, the work is more about encouraging them to make their voices heard. The work is driven by the students in the clubs.

“It’s so important to ensure that youth give other youth the message,” he said. “If not, it’s just another adult preaching at them.”