As well as looking at introducing new educational courses and alcohol-free events for young people, they also will be aiming to get parents very much involved.
Nicqui, director of the MindRight Institute, and Di, director of Byron Youth Service, are also team members of BUDDI – Byron Underage Drinking and Drug Initiative.
They described the recent 2009 National Drinkwise Forum – Solutions for a Safer Drinking Future in Sydney as ‘truly inspiring’.
Nicqui said that as a youth mental health first aid instructor, it never ceased to amaze her just how little adults, parents in particular, actually knew about how alcohol affected the still-forming teenage brain.
She said when Dr Aaron White from the US Federal Health Administration presented his session on the impact of alcohol on the adolescent brain, it was evident to her ‘once again’ that a room of educated adults was gobsmacked by what they hadn’t known.
Nicqui said she and Di hoped to implement some of the strategies employed in the US in order to provide effective education and prevention programs with an emphasis on the role of parents in diminishing adolescent alcohol use.
“The goal is to delay the onset of use of alcohol in young people and to provide and encourage alternatives to them,” she said.
“One of the problems that has been identified here in Byron Bay is the lack of social opportunities, events and venues for young people to gather. Teenagers are typical human animals and require interaction.
“We are planning to encourage more interesting educational courses and alcohol-free events being offered to the young people of Byron Shire.
“It is a fact that when you give them something to do, they are less likely to get into trouble. We will also be encouraging more parental participation and education.”
Di Mahoney said the BYS had plans to not only provide more programs for young people, but also for parents.
She said many parents struggled to know what to do and say about alcohol and the best ways to influence their kids.
“We want to support parents to positively influence their children. Parents are a powerful force and are therefore a vital key to changing the dangerous drinking behaviours we observe among some young people,” she said.
Both Nicqui and Di have been invited by the CEO of Drinkwise Australia, Chris Watters, to Melbourne to spend a day working on solutions to the area’s ‘unique’ drinking problems.
Anyone wanting to learn more about the affects of alcohol on the teenage brain and common youth mental health problems is invited to attend a MindRight Institute youth mental first aid course at Ballina this month.
Inquiries to Nicqui Yazdi on 0402013177.
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