Civic-minded students made it a little harder for teens to get alcohol last week, as they participated in the statewide Your Actions Matter campaign.
Your Actions Matter is an underage drinking awareness program coordinated through the Illinois Liquor Control Commission. It was sponsored locally by the Wilmington Coalition for a Healthy Community, the Braidwood Area Healthy Community Coalition, the Wilmington and Braidwood police departments, Will County Sheriff's Department, Wilmington superintendent of schools Jay Plese, Wilmington Mayor Marty Orr and Braidwood Mayor Bill Rulien. The event brings the month of April, Alcohol Awareness Month in the state of Illinois, to a close.
During the event on Friday afternoon students from the Wilmington and Reed Custer high schools visited each establishment in their community that sells package liquors, and put Your Action Matters decals on refrigerator doors and hang tags on bottled alcohol - reminding adults not to give alcohol to minors.
It is illegal for those under 21 to purchase or consume alcohol in the state of Illinois. It is also illegal for those 21 and over to provide alcohol to anyone under 21.
"Alcohol is extremely easy for youth to get," Wilmington coalition member Rich Rizzo told about one dozen students who showed up for the awareness activity. "Adults are supposed to be the responsible ones, but one of the most common ways youths get alcohol is to get someone over 21 to buy it for them."
Research indicates that the younger an individual is when he or she starts drinking, the more likely the individual is to become alcohol dependent later in life, Rizzo said. More than one in three who begin drinking at age 15 will become alcoholics at some point in their lives; for those who wait until age 17, the rate is one in four. At age 19, the rate of potential alcohol dependency is one in five, and for those who wait until age 21 the rate drops to one in 10.
Mayor Orr thanked the students for participating.
"Some people don't think this helps, but if it changes one person's mind [about buying alcohol for a minor] it's very well worth it," he said.
Mayor Rulien encouraged the students to continue setting a good example for their peers.
Wilmington Police Chief Darin Plotts said parents need to be more aware of alcohol abuse by children, and more involved in prevention.
Angelo's Liquors, Berkot's Super Foods, Wee-Sip Liquors, Midtown Mart and Mobil permitted the Wilmington High School students to bring their campaign to the retail establishments. Reed Custer students got a fire truck escort back to Braidwood, where they visited stores with their message.
The local effort was just one of the many being held all across the state of Illinois thanks to a wide-ranging partnership of statewide industry and prevention groups.