Mission Bay High students use ‘shock sticker’ to discourage underage alcohol use
If you recently bought a pizza from Woodstock’s Pizza in Pacific Beach and noticed a sticker on the box discouraging underage drinking, it was due to the students at Mission Bay High School.
Youth Campus Advocates spent nearly two hours on December 17 applying 200 stickers they created to the restaurant’s pizza boxes. The sticker shock campaign was their latest effort to discourage underage alcohol use during the holidays, a time when children are in more party environments and exposed to potentially harmful substances.
The Youth Advocates said their goal is to encourage healthy lifestyles in children and young adults. Other topics they touched on include teen vaping, mental health issues, and substance abuse.
Club president Colette Berry, a high school student from Mission Bay High School, said it’s especially crucial at their age to advocate for peers to make good decisions.
“A high school is known for many risky and dangerous behaviors,” Berry said. “We hope to curb this by providing accurate statistics and working with reputable government organizations, such as SAY San Diego, to encourage people to take charge of their health.”
The club, formed nearly three years ago at Mission Bay High, is mentored by members of SAY San Diego, a non-profit organization that aims to help the well-being of family and community. One of its means of promoting this well-being is through advocacy for the prevention of drug addiction.
Lizbeth Roman, an SAY mentor who helps counsel Youth Advocates, said she relied on her public health education while in college.
“These kids are at an age where they’re exploring what they like and don’t like, and they can try a substance as part of that exploration,” Roman said. “The information disseminated by advocates can help children make healthy choices, especially since their brains are still developing. “
The Shock Sticker campaign was started by Mothers Against Drunk Driving several years ago, with the goal of affixing stickers to alcohol bottles to raise awareness about drunk driving. MADD San Diego Program Specialist Kaley Kantor helped Youth Advocates organize the event.
“Part of my job is to work with young people, to get them excited about MADD’s mission,” Kantor said. “Drunk driving affects so many people, and there is a good chance that two in three people will be affected in their lifetime. It is not difficult to find someone who is affected. These kinds of campaigns are a great way for young advocates to exercise their creativity while spreading a really positive message.
Thanks to road safety grants, which finance its educational work, MADD is able to engage with many youth advocacy groups. The one in Pacific Beach was Kantor’s fourth sticker campaign with SAYS San Diego.
“The overall goal is to limit access for young people, and a campaign like this could discourage adults from buying alcohol for someone who is underage,” Kantor said.
Roman said that among the liquor stores the club contacted, none were willing to collaborate with the Mission Bay Youth Advocates.
“We ended up contacting Woodstock’s Pizza, not only because they serve beer, but they also serve pizza to many families with teenagers in the area,” Roman explained.
Kantor said she anticipates a greater impact with the campaign led by Mission Bay Youth Advocates, given the restaurant’s customer demographics.
The target audience is not only young people who plan to drink underage, but also adults who plan to provide them with alcohol.
According to the Social Host Accountability Ordinance, hosts of a gathering where underage drinking is permitted are held liable and liable to a fine. In a press conference the club held in conjunction with the sticker shock event, Berry said the holidays were an especially critical time for making good decisions about substances and party environments.
“We created stickers that convey the message not to provide alcohol to minors, to support the Hosts Social Responsibility Act,” said Berry. “During the holidays, a lot of people don’t go to school or work and there are parties. Adults can care for and support the health and well-being of minors by not providing them with alcohol.
Echoing Berry’s message, club vice-president Maya Satterberg said tackling underage alcohol abuse requires the participation of everyone involved.
“The most common place for underage alcohol consumption is at someone else’s home,” Satterberg said. “That’s why San Diego implemented this ordinance on social hosts. It is easy to avoid this fine by controlling access to alcohol during your parties. It is also important that minors pay attention to their friends and help them make the right decisions.
Kantor, citing data from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, claimed that while the total number of kilometers driven decreased by 13% during the COVID-19 pandemic, fatal alcohol-related crashes still increased by 9%. .
“These campaigns are entirely led and organized by young people and are a fun and effective way to reach the target audience,” Kantor said.
Satterberg said she hopes the stickers will spark responsible party conversations.
“I think it’s a good opportunity to get people interested and learn more,” she explained. “As long as it kicks off conversations for people who haven’t thought of it before, I think it’s a win.”
“We hope the brightly colored designs the students came up with will communicate the message to anyone who sees them,” said Roman.
In addition to taking a stand against substance abuse, Youth Advocates have previously discussed mental health issues in the queer community and the disproportionate impact of substance abuse on communities of color.
“We do presentations on different substances. We’ve worked with groups like Friday Night Live (and) different government agencies, ”Satterberg said. “Everything we do is linked to each other. It is important not to focus solely on these issues in solitude, but as a small part of a bigger whole. Intersectionality is definitely at the center of much of our work.
Berry and Satterberg said leading by example helps encourage activism among their peers.
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“We want to make these issues accessible to people our age, even though they’re not necessarily included when government officials use all this big, fancy jargon designed to deliberately exclude certain populations,” Berry said. “We want to show that being politically active, working to bring about positive change in the community is not as difficult as it sounds.”
Two years ago, the Mission Bay Youth Advocates came before lawmakers to push for legislation restricting the sale of vapers within two miles of school zones. Locally, they contributed to Red Ribbon Week and DARE campaigns at Mission Bay High School.
“It’s important to always engage with people on these topics, to keep them in mind so that they know how to react to situations as they arise in their life,” Satterberg said.
After applying the stickers to the pizza boxes, Berry said the club hopes to design another sticker to distribute at DUI checkpoints alongside the San Diego Police Department to thank people for not driving under the influence and increase awareness of drug addiction among minors.