It is hard to believe that it was already about a month ago that Leland & Gray’s Above the Influence (ATI) group participated in their second Sticker Shock activity.  This time around we had a larger group of students, and the knowledge and experience that was acquired during the activity’s first go-round.  This inspired confident attitudes and leadership within the group.  We were prepared and armed with more than enough stickers enabling us to go to 4 local stores.

Set free a couple of hours early from the normal school release time (always a perk), ATI middle school students piled into the cars of the Student Assistance Professional (SAP), Jaclyn Hamilton, and myself and set off to make the rounds to most of the stores in the West River Valley that are licensed alcohol distributors. With necessary prior coordination and permission, or course, from the stores, school and parents, we strategized to tackle the largest beer and wine venue first, Riverbend Market.

The flurry of activity that took place form the moment we entered the store including the students’ initiative, enthusiasm, focus, determination, planning and problem solving made me feel like I was part of a specialized task force on a secret mission. In many ways on various levels, the comparison is quite an accurate one.  The task force was the ATI group and the mission was to generate awareness about underage drinking in the community, specifically the consequences to providing alcohol to minors (up to two years in jail and $2,000 in fines). To quote one of the stickers, “…the most expensive drink you’ll ever buy.” It’s not every day that you see a group of twelve and thirteen year olds in the beer aisle, handling the products with authority, so this sight alone stimulated enlightening conversations and ignited the spark of community awareness.

We proceeded to leave our mark on the cases of beer at D & K’s Grocery, Wardsboro Country Store, and the Newfane Market just in time for the upcoming holiday celebrations. It was a privilege to witness and be a part of an activity where young people and business owners, who share a vested interest in their communities, worked together toward a shared goal of keeping their communities healthy and safe.  I am proud of the ATI students not only for their collective efforts to complete this activity successfully, but for representing themselves, their peers, their family, their school, and communities with admirable maturity, responsibility, and respect. I am also grateful for the store owners, representatives, and employees from the establishments who participated in this activity for their support, encouragement and enthusiasm (and cookies too!).  Sticker Shock Mission: Complete!

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