Students in the Safety Zone’s Communities Mobilizing for Change on Alcohol (CMCA) summer program showed off their talent and creativity on Monday evening, July 30, at the Nazareth Lutheran Church.
The eight students, between the ages of 12 and 16, performed original songs and skits about the health risks, dangers and foolishness of underage drinking, before about 30 residents who gathered for the presentation.
The seven-week program, the Safety Zone’s first summer youth campaign, was designed to attack the social problem from an environmental standpoint, explained CMCA program director Don Turner.
“CMCA at the Safety Zone is a different kind of prevention program,” said Turner. “We aim to impact the environment to reduce the availability of alcohol to underage people.”
Identifying The Problem
With a goal of eventually limiting underage access to alcohol, the group uncovered information about how teens obtain alcohol in the first place, explained Latoya Browne, CMCA project facilitator.
“The students conducted a survey of youth between the ages of 11 and 17 and inquired about their feelings on underage drinking,” Browne said. “We found that there is not enough enforcement of the 10 p.m. curfew for underage persons and that there is a great deal of dishonesty on behalf of older siblings and friends who purchase alcohol for underage youth.”
“We also discovered there is a failure to ask for identification on the part of store and bar owners,” Browne added.
An Active Effort
CMCA is designed to actively engage the community, explained Browne.
“The students made an active effort in their surveys and we are hoping to get the community on board in this effort as well,” she said.
Taking information from the surveys, along with facts about the dangers of drinking, the CMCA students wrote a number of original skits and songs for their final presentation, highlighting what they learned this summer as well as their dramatic skills.
After marching into the church, the students recited a call-and-response routine with Browne introducing themselves, before performing a number of short dramatic sketches.
One skit told the tale of a young girl trying to fight her inner demons and how the solutions will not be found in a bottle. Another related the story of a frustrated young man who does not know how to handle his anger and wants his friends to stop drinking.
Songs and Poems
Exhibiting impressive poise, the students also sang a number of original tunes about the dangers of drinking and even recited a poem entitled “The Final Act,” about the perils of driving under the influence.
With the help of artistic director Clarence Cuthberston of the Carabana Ensemble, the students’ presentation was impressively professional.
Although the summer portion of the program has come to a close, CMCA organizers plan to continue to combat underage drinking through an after school campaign in the fall.
While the students knew that drinking is not a healthy activity, they didn’t know exactly how it affected the body, explained Willis Fahie.
“I learned that drinking isn’t a good thing and can mess up your insides like your liver and kidneys,” said 15-year-old Fahie. “I really enjoyed being in the program and encourage others to get involved because it’s a big problem and I don’t want to see my friends die.”
Sheniqua Davis, 13, had fun while learning valuable information about underage drinking.
“I learned that underage drinking mostly comes from guardians and other older relatives,” Davis said. “We also had a lot of fun going to the beach and things. I think it’s an important program because it will change the community to be drug- and alcohol-free.”
Drinking is not something teens should be experimenting with, explained team leader Timmica Hendrickson.
“A Big Waste”
“I learned you don’t need to be drinking to be cool,” said 15-year-old Hendrickson. “There is no point to drinking — you don’t need it. It’s bad for you and a big waste.”
The Safety Zone is looking for additional students to participate in the CMCA after school program this fall. For more information call Browne or Turner at the Safety Zone at 693-7233.