21 Not 12 – Underage Drinking Prevention

During a course on medical occupations, juniors and seniors met with staff from the local March of Dimes to discuss their community’s medical problems and needs. Significant problems that surfaced involved underage drinking and Fetal Alcohol Syndrome (FAS). After much discussion, the students decided to do a service-learning project to raise awareness about these issues.

The students studied how alcohol affects each bodily system. They analyzed local Maine Youth Drug and Alcohol Use Survey (MYDAUS) data to confirm that underage drinking was a significant problem in their community. The students then met with the Westbrook Community Prevention Coalition to learn about existing efforts to curb underage drinking.

After reviewing their research, the class decided to create informational posters and videos to raise awareness about the dangers of Fetal Alcohol Syndrome and underage drinking. They opted to focus their efforts on middle school students because they felt those students might be more receptive to information from “peers” (as opposed to adult authority figures). The slogan for their project was “21 not 12,” emphasizing the legal age for consuming alcohol.

To produce their video, the students worked with a professional videographer and editor to record live interviews in which people shared personal stories about the impact of alcohol abuse (including someone who lost a loved one in a drunk driving accident). The students shared their video and work with local middle school students, the March of Dimes, the local Rotary Club, and the Westbrook Community Prevention Coalition. The Coalition was so impressed with the students’ work that it continues to use the video in its efforts to curb underage drinking in the community.