BY LOUISE R. SHAW
Clipper Staff Writer
BOUNTIFUL – Because he had seen the devastating effects of underage drinking, Rep. Chris Stewart, R-District 2, was unequivocal in his message to junior high students.
“Alcohol is never good,” said Stewart, “but it’s devastating when you start when you’re young.”
He told students gathered at South Davis Junior High about a high school friend that began drinking in seventh grade and by the age of 17, was an addict.
“His life was never the same,” said Stewart. “He passed away at 38, which was way, way too young. He had four little kids and a great career and lost it all because in seventh grade someone offered him a drink.”
Stewart visited the Bountiful school as part of the Ask, Listen, Learn initiative developed by the Century Council.
At the morning event, an interactive game formulated by the organization was introduced by Riley Smith, of Arlington, Va.
The game helps kids learn how fast alcohol goes to the brain and what percentage of students drink, among other statistics.
According to the organization, 30 percent of adolescents say they have tried alcohol by the time they reach eighth grade. Eleven percent of eighth graders said they had consumed alcohol in the past month.
In the 12- to 14-year age range, 49 percent said alcohol education made a difference in their decisions related to drinking.
“Kids in seventh and eighth grades are making important decisions and they have no idea how they can impact the rest of their lives,” Stewart said to the Clipper after his presentation. “I’m happy to do anything I can to help. There is enough heartache in the world, let’s not make it worse by drinking,”
Ask, Listen, Learn will be incorporated in the health and physical education curriculum at South Davis, according to Principal Jeff Jorgensen. More information on the program is available at centurycouncil.org.