A Child Will Lead Them

Mechancisville, VA – Delegate Christopher K. Peace (R-Mechanicsville) joined with Board of Supervisors members, Senator Ryan McDougle, the Hanover Sheriff’s office, the Department of Community Resources, the Community Services Board, Commonwealth’s Attorney Kirby Porter, parents and students at an ICARE Hanover Town Hall Meeting on Underage Drinking held April 4, 2006.

Peace spoke on working together to find solutions to the problem of underage drinking and reiterated the necessity for involvement of community youth in the process of change. Delegate Peace told attendees, “No one can underestimate the importance of youth involvement in changing a community and a culture. I salute the young people in Hanover who are saying no to drinking and drugs. You are the change agents who will break the cultural cycle of permissiveness in our homes and become parents who know that there is plenty of time in life to be your child’s best friend.”

The purpose of the ICARE Town Hall Meeting was to increase community awareness on the issue of underage drinking, identify how underage drinking affects the community and brainstorm possible solutions. Speakers challenged both parents and students to be a part of the solution and to employee preventative measures. WRVA News reported nearly 250 people were in attendance.

The event was sponsored by ICARE and Hanover’s Promise. I CARE is a coalition of many county agencies working together to protect youth and families. Members are dedicated to mobilizing awareness of community substance use issues and investing in collaborative solutions that promote healthy opportunities for youth and parents.

Hanover’s Promise is an Alliance for Youth that mobilizes the community to build the character and competence of Hanover's children and youth by fulfilling the Five Promises of America's Promise. These five promises are - ongoing relationships with caring adults, parents, teachers, mentors, tutors, or coaches; safe places with structured activities; a healthy start and future; marketable skills through effective education; and opportunities to give back through community service.

At the meeting, ICARE members reported sobering statistics concerning underage alcohol use among Hanover teens. Fourteen percent of surveyed 8th graders reported using alcohol in the past 30 days, while 35% of 10th graders and 48% of 12th graders detailed using alcohol in the same time period. Survey participants (55%) cited age 15-16 as the age at which they began drinking regularly. Perhaps the most shocking statistic surrounds binge drinking. Of all 8th, 10th and 12th graders assessed, a combined 46% reported binge drinking in the past two weeks. Supporting nationally reported statistics that harmful binge drinking is on the rise among middle and high school students.

With prom season and graduation quickly approaching, the ICARE message on how parents and students can be a part of the solution to prevent underage drinking is timely. To continue the dialogue, join ICARE at their next meeting April 19th at 7:00 p.m at Atlee High School.

Delegate Christopher K. Peace was elected to serve in the Virginia House of Delegates on January 24, 2006 in a Special Election. As the representative for the 97th District, Delegate Peace serves parts of Hanover, Caroline, King William, King and Queen, Henrico, Spotsylvania Counties and all of New Kent County. Peace now sits on the prominent House Courts of Justice, Health Welfare and Institutions, and Science and Technology Committees. ###