Campaign to curb underage drinking

By Evan Johnson - bio | email

LAKE CHARLES, LA (KPLC) - It was up, up, and stay for Calcasieu Parish Sheriff's Deputy Gerald Thomas as he's lifted to his new home.  On top of a billboard at the intersection of Ryan Street and Prien Lake Road is where he will live until Wednesday and while he admits to having the normal fear of heights, he says it's all worth it.

Thomas says, "This is a chance where we can try to make a difference so we want to go ahead and try to do the best that we can to get the message out and get people aware."

The message Gerald is trying to make people aware of is underage drinking. It is unsafe, irresponsible, and illegal.  It's the number one drug abused by teenagers and young adults and is also the number one preventable cause of death.

Dane Bolin, Director of the Office of Juvenile Justice Services, says, "We're just losing too many of our kids and the ones we're not losing we're getting a lot of DWIs from the young kids.  We've had a lot of accidents here within the last three or four months in the parish that were alcohol-related.  We have to make a stand and we're trying to start this coalition and it's working out great so far."

The underage drinking campaign is a partnership between the Office of Juvenile Justice Services and the Calcasieu Coalition to Build a Healthy Louisiana.  It's the first of many initiatives aimed at shedding some light on this issue.

Project Director Mary Kaye Allemond says, "We're going to be out throughout all of the community doing community awareness through church groups, community groups, and school organizations."

Education is the key to change.