Maui Drinking Prevention Meeting Calls on Community to “Be A Jerk”
[flashvideo file=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YKueqNPADeI /] By Wendy Osher
More than 60 community members showed up for a town hall meeting in Kula tonight focused on underage drinking prevention. The meeting comes on the heels of a deadly car crash just down the road that claimed the lives of five young adults.
“Unfortunately, it is very sad circumstances that brought out the community; but of course this is really Maui style: You have a problem and everybody comes together to try to be the source of the solution,” said Maui resident Yuki Lei Sugimura, Maui coordinator for the Communities Mobilizing For A Change on Alcohol program.
While the accident remains under investigation, police say they suspect alcohol and speed as factors in the crash. The final results of an investigation and toxicology tests will take several weeks to complete.
Organizers and partners in the event said it provided an opportunity for the community to speak openly about their concerns and feelings among their peers and family members.
In addition to young adults, the meeting also drew attendance from prosecutors, firefighters, and police, some of whom were the first on the scene of the deadly Sunday morning car crash.
At the meeting program coordinators announced that Maui will kick off a program on Monday, April 2, when Mayor Alan Arakawa will proclaim the month of April as Alcohol Awareness Month.
“I think it’s so befitting with all that’s going on in the community, and all of us crying in our hearts, for a very sad situation that maybe could have been prevented; and every single one of you sitting here are part of the solution,” said Sugimura.
The Communities Mobilizing For A Change on Alcohol program is providing funding to a variety of non-profit organizations in Maui County that are interested in preventing underage drinking, and spreading the message under the “Be A Jerk” campaign.
“It might sound a little strange to tell people to Be A Jerk, but the idea is we want adults to be a jerk and not provide alcohol to minors,” said MEO Underage Drinking Prevention program coordinator, Nicole Schroeter.
As part of the program, Schroeter said participants will be going out on Wednesdays and doing “Sticker Shocks.” Under the program, youth will go into convenience stores and place stickers on alcohol boxes to remind adults to Be A Jerk and keep alcohol in the hands of people that are 21 or older.
There will also be a free car wash conducted by Maui youth from 8 a.m. to 1 p.m. on Saturday, April 28 at Ceramic Tile Plus in Kahului. In order to get the free wash, community members are being asked to take a pledge to Be A Jerk by not giving alcohol to young people under the age of 21.
Programs that are the recipient of grant funds for underage drinking prevention on Maui include:
- Maui Economic Opportunity, Underage Drinking Prevention Program: presents an eight-week curriculum to junior high and high school students at area schools
- Ka Hale A Ke Ola Homeless Resource Center
- Hui Aloha on Moloka’i is working with stores to rearrange shelves so that alcohol is not eye level, and kids don’t have to see the product as they walk into a store.
- Community Work Day is painting murals on Lana’i, Moloka’i and on Maui for the Be A Jerk program.
- Hui Malama Learning Center is marketing media awareness.
- Boys & Girls Club is hosting a teen expo in May with underage drinking prevention program activities on display.
“Our hearts and prayers go out to the families that are affected by tragedy. As you know, one person’s action does not just stay with that person, but it affects every single one in our hearts,” said Sugimura.