Alcohol-free-February: Teens pledge to quit booze in SADD initiative

2010-02-16 00:00

THIS February teenagers around the country pledged to have an alcohol-free year.

AlcoFreeTeen, an initiative of Sadd (South Africans Against Drunk Driving), began early this month with teens signing an online pledge form. Each teenager paid R20 to belong to the AlcoFreeTeen club, and received a ZeroHero badge as a reminder of their commitment.

According to Sadd, alcohol misuse is rife in high schools.

Sadd’s Charlotte Sullivan said the initiative’s aim is to create awareness among both pa­rents and children.

“Parents are often blissfully unaware of the pressures their children face,” she said.

Parents can support their children by parti­cipating in AlcoFreeFeb, where they give up alcohol in February.

“Alcohol is causing great losses for the country,” Sullivan said. “Not only in alcohol-related road crashes, but it’s causing students to drop out of university too.”

“Schools have shown lots of excitement,” Sullivan said. Maritzburg College and Michaelhouse are among the schools where pupils have pledged to be alcohol-free.

Michaelhouse’s Melanie Wester said: “There has been an overwhelming, positive response from our parents, boys and staff, with critical messages reinforced in daily academic programmes and displays around the school.”

The money raised from this initiative will be used by Sadd — Sullivan explained there is a “huge amount of work to be done”.

Last year, Sadd worked in 10 universities nationally. “We teach students about the dangers of alcohol in all areas, like its effect on the brain,” Sullivan said.

According to Sullivan, many students have “alcohol problems” and do not realise it.

She encourages parents to look out for indicators like poor school attendance, a drastic decrease in grades and missing money.

Parents who want a “night off” from Alco­FreeFeb can purchase a SpecialBreak ticket for R20. The ticket is valid for one day only, and allows the bearer to drink alcohol.

“It’s only for special occasions,” said Sullivan. “Like weddings or birthdays.”

For more information, visit www.alco­freefeb.co.za.

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