Teens to share their ideas

Underage drinking forum asks youths to address problem


— One of the many ideas that came out of a recent community forum on underage drinking was to hold a similar forum just for teenagers so they could discuss their own concerns about the issue.

Grand Futures Prevention Coalition Director Sandy Vis--nack said she and other concerned community members agreed that hosting a forum devoted to talking to young people about drinking was a great idea.

The teen forum is from 6:30 to 8 p.m. at Centennial Hall at 10th and Oak streets. Two young adults -- about 20 years old -- from the community will host the forum.

Visnack said the forum would not be open to adults to keep teens from feeling pressured or threatened when speaking.

"We need to give the youth in this community a voice about these issues in order to really be effective," she said.

Visnack said the two moderators for the session would be Stephanie Murphy and Drew Stachnik.

Murphy grew up here and graduated from Steamboat Springs High School. During November's community forum, she said she thought teens would be more open to talking about the issues with one another -- and without adults.

What: Underage drinking teen forumWhen: 6:30 to 8 p.m. MondayWhere: Centennial Hall, 10th and Oak streetsCost: Free (Pizza and beverages will be provided)Call: 879-6188

Visnack said Stachnik is a former Colorado Mountain College resident adviser and had worked with her at Grand Futures.

"They both have their hearts in this," she said. "They have a real interest in helping young people make good decisions."

Visnack said she hoped the forum would give teens an opportunity to bring up concerns or observations about underage drinking that they typically would feel uncomfortable bringing to their parents, teachers or other adults.

"We don't want adults there, so that the kids can be themselves without thinking they're being judged or going to get in trouble for what they want to say," she said.

She said she hoped the participants would come up with some solutions, as well.

"I am hoping that these kids realize that they do have a voice in this community and that their opinions do matter," she said.

The November community forum came about after a police compliance check showed nine of 11 liquor stores sold alcohol to a minor, a statistic that shocked many in the community.

Since then, business owners, City Council members, parents, law enforcement agencies and residents have been discussing how to curb underage drinking.

The teen forum is just one piece of the puzzle, Visnack said.

"After our forum in Nov--ember, we decided that we didn't want to wait months and months before we did something else with this issue," she said.

-- To reach Alexis DeLaCruz, call 871-4234 or e-mail adelacruz@steamboatpilot.com


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