If you go
John Underwood's remaining focus groups
8:25 to 9:40 a.m. Steamboat Springs High School student body (group one)
9:50 to 11:05 a.m. Steamboat Springs High School student body (group two)
12:45 to 1:45 p.m. Hayden High School students and parents
3:45 to 5 p.m. Steamboat Springs High School and Middle School
administration and staff
6 to 7:30 p.m. Youth recreation,
at Centennial Hall, 124 10th St.
Noon to 2 p.m. Community, at Centennial Hall, 124 10th St.
By the numbers
48 percentage of students nationally who have used alcohol by 12th grade
24 percentage of students nationally who have used marijuana by 12th grade
200 percentage Routt County is above state rate for alcohol-related traffic fatalities
119 percentage Routt County is above state rate for youth alcohol-related arrests
123 percentage Routt County is above state rate for adult alcohol-related arrests
54 percentage of Steamboat Springs High School students who reported using alcohol in the past 30 days
40 percentage of Steamboat Springs High School students who reported getting drunk one or more times in the past three weeks
42 percentage of Steamboat Springs High School students who reported riding with a driver who has been drinking in the past year
18 percentage of Steamboat Springs High School students who reported driving after drinking in the past year
77 percentage of Hayden High School students who report having used alcohol in their lifetime
23 percentage of Hayden Middle School students who report having used alcohol in their lifetime
69 percentage of Hayden High School students who have used alcohol in the past month
18 percentage of Hayden Middle School students who have used alcohol in the past month
Source: John Underwood, president and founder, American Athletic Institute
Steamboat Springs After one of his many presentations on youth substance abuse in Steamboat Springs this week, John Underwood was shocked when a sixth-grader challenged his concepts, arguing that smoking pot improved snowboarding.
Underwood gave the child the same message he has given countless athletes through the American Athletic Institute, a consulting firm whose primary focus is educating athletes about the dangers of drug and alcohol use.
"As good as you guys are, you're nowhere as good as you could be," Underwood, president and founder of the institute, said he told the student.
Steamboat Springs Police Capt. Joel Rae said the fact that many Steamboat youths don't know the information Underwood is presenting underscores the value of having him here. Rae said "I didn't know that" is the most common reaction he has heard.
"When you get to the point where kids are not aware of the dangers (of drug and alcohol use), it is our job to educate them," Rae said.
Rae, along with Steamboat Springs High School counselor Kelle Schmidt, spearheaded the effort to bring Underwood to Steamboat after he impressed both at separate conferences they attended. Underwood's series is part of a collaborative effort by Grand Futures Prevention Coalition, the Yampa Valley Community Foundation, Steamboat Springs School District, Steamboat Springs Police Department, the Youth Wellness Initiative and Parent Academy.
The series has included several focus group meetings with specific messages for subsections of the community such as parents, students, human services personnel and law enforcement. Underwood held a forum for the whole community Wednesday night, and he will hold another at noon Friday at Centennial Hall.
"We're really lucky to have him here," Grand Futures Director Colleen Lyon said. Lyon said Underwood only does eight or nine such series a year nationwide.
Underwood said he gets requests to speak to athletes and coaches only, but on an issue such as underage alcohol and drug use, he prefers to engage the whole community.
"You won't fix this problem in one venue," he said. "Many messengers with the same message - that's how you make a difference in communities."
Underwood said Steamboat, like the resort community of Lake Placid, N.Y., which he hails from, has higher rates of drug of alcohol use than national and state rates.
"Resort towns have big issues with drug use," Underwood said. "The unfortunate part is it filters down to your kids. Your use rates are way above the national average."
"If we're being called in, obviously the problem already exists," added T.W. Bruyer, a detective and alcohol enforcement team coordinator for the Flathead County (Mont.) Sheriff's Office who works with Underwood.
Underwood said his goal for the week is to provide the community first with better information, and second with ideas for systems, policies and procedures to put in place to deter the use of social drugs.
Underwood said suggestions for Steamboat may include raising standards for youth behavior through codes of conduct and increased consequences for alcohol and drug use. After Friday's community meeting, Rae and Lyon said a group of key stakeholders will gather to discuss Underwood's recommendations and the possible adoption of them.
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