#LifeNotWasted being used by Fairfield to prevent underage drinking
FAIRFIELD — A group whose goal is to combat underage drinking hopes its newest initiative starts trending on social media — #LifeNotWasted.
The Fairfield Cares Community Coalition unveiled the new campaign Wednesday morning, and they want teens to upload photos of themselves enjoying life without alcohol, using the new hashtag.
Police Chief Gary MacNamara, the co-chair of the coalition, said for many in older generations, when they see “#” it means number. “But it’s not a number sign anymore, it’s the way our communities communicate.”
Ysabela Barroso is a junior at Fairfield Warde High School and a member of the coalition. “It’s been an incredible experience,” Barroso said, adding when ideas for marketing ways to combat underage drinking were shared with her peers on the coalition, “We did not lie .. We were straight when we thought something was too cheesy.”
Barroso said underage drinking and its consequences not only affect teens but also their families and friends.
In addition to the hast tag campaign, the initiative will also provide decals for parents and merchants to put in the windows of their homes and stores to let everyone know that underage drinking will not be allowed.
“This is a very exciting day,” said Jennifer Jacobson, the coordinator working with Positive Directions, a center for prevention and counseling, which is a partner of the coalition. “We’re looking at putting out some really meaningful, and powerful, messaging.”
The goal, she said, is to continue to raise awareness of the risks associated with underage drinking, and highlight healthy choices.
The campaign will focus on three audiences — parents, students, and law enforcement. One aim is to increase awareness among parents of the impact of alcohol on the brain, parental monitoring, and awareness of the Social Host Law, that puts liability on those hosting parties.
Decreasing alcohol consumption of middle and high school students is the goal for teens, while increasing merchant compliance, among other things, is the goal for law enforcement.
MacNamara said the social media messaging will be promoted to the appropriate audience, with Instagram posts for teens, and Facebook posts for parents and law enforcement. “Messaging will also coincide with seasonal occasions when there are spikes in underage drinking,” the chief said.
Teens who upload photos and videos of them doing positive things, highlighting things like sports, hobbies, and friendship, and tagged with #FairfieldCares and #LifeNotWasted, will be curated for an online gallery for the Fairfield Cares website, http://www.fairfieldct.org/fairfieldcares. Each week throughout the year, one student will be chosen to get a gift card from local merchants.
While focusing on underage drinking, Fairfield Cares is also in the process of implementing an opioid mini-grant to implement programs that include substance abuse prevention, educating local pharmacists, doctors, dentists and veterinarians about the state’s prescription monitoring and reporting system, and Narcan training in the community.