According to our research, 83 percent of youth report parents are the leading influence in their decision to not drink alcohol. Teens cite parental influence as having significantly more clout in that respect than advertisements, TV, media, teachers, siblings and even their own friends.
With information like this, it may come as no surprise that programs like Kansas State University’s “Get it, Do it” initiative, which aims to build “social capital” within Kansas communities by awarding small grants to those communities that are encouraging teens and adults to work together on a healthy lifestyle project, see success in positively affecting the behavior of young people.
Elaine Johannes, Ph.D., associate professor of family studies and human services at Kansas State University, told PsychCentral that she believes the key to preventing teens from engaging in unhealthy and dangerous behavior, like drinking underage, are adults who can be positive role models for helping teens develop healthy habits.
By providing these small grants to communities, “Get it, Do it” encourages the continuation of these valuable teen-adult interactions through such community efforts as after-school programs, summer programs and summer jobs, which occupy teenagers’ time while offering them guidance for living a healthy lifestyle.
But teens aren’t the only ones who benefit from the program. Johannes said “Get it, Do it” creates a win-win experience for teens, as well as adults.
“The more you have a teenager feeling engaged and seeing that the fruits of their work actually improve their community, the more they will take pride in their community,” Johannes told PsychCentral. “It turns out teenagers like hanging with these adults, and when adults foster engagement with youth, they also like teenagers and they see the teens as leaders, not burdens.”
The Century Council commends the efforts of the people behind the “Get it, Do it” initiative, and we look forward to following the program’s positive impact in the future. Through combined efforts from various members of the community, progress can be made toward preventing our nation’s youth from becoming ensnared in the destructive problem of underage drinking. That’s certainly a win-win for everyone.