Lynne A. Valenti
Cabinet Secretary

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April 3, 2006

First Lady Jean Rounds Reaches Out to School-Aged Youth on the Dangers of Alcohol Use

PIERRE, S.D. – When the public hears the phrase “underage drinking,” they often think of teenagers using alcohol. However, by the time they reach the eighth grade, nearly 50 percent of adolescents have had at least one drink, and 20 percent report having been “drunk,” according to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA).

“Far too many children are beginning to drink at an early age,” said First Lady Jean Rounds. “Most fifth graders in communities throughout South Dakota are not using alcohol, but it is a reality they may face in the near future. Reach Out Now Teach-In is an important step in communicating a consistent message to youth at home and at school that underage drinking is dangerous, illegal, and unacceptable.”

First Lady Jean Rounds is actively involved in a program called Reach Out Now Teach-In, which teaches elementary youth about the dangers of underage alcohol use. Hundreds of schools and organizations nationwide are holding Reach Out Now Teach-In events during the week of April 3-7, 2006, and throughout the month of April as it is Alcohol Awareness Month. The Reach Out Now National Teach-In is a nationwide program sponsored by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, to help prevent underage drinking.

On Tuesday, April 4, 2006, First Lady Jean Rounds will speak to fifth graders about the dangers of underage alcohol use at the following elementary schools in Yankton and Vermillion:

  • Yankton: Stewart Elementary School at 10:30 a.m., 208 W. 21st Street
  • Vermillion: Jolley Elementary School at 1:00 p.m., 224 S. University

In 2005, 24 percent of children in South Dakota had their first drink (other than a few sips) of alcohol before the age of 13 and 47 percent had at least one drink of alcohol on one or more occasion within a 39-day time period, according to the South Dakota Youth Risk Behavior Survey.

“Alerting children, parents, and teachers through education and outreach about the dangers of alcohol use is a vital step in reducing the amount of children who will be affected by it later in life,” stated First Lady Jean Rounds.

Teach-Ins are an opportunity for prominent national, youth, State, and local leaders using a research-based curriculum and other helpful materials provided by SAMHSA to teach fifth and sixth graders, parents, teachers, and the community about the dangers of underage alcohol use and encourage young people to make healthy decisions.

At the end of the lesson, students should be able to:

  • Describe some of the effects of alcohol on the brain and body
  • Identify effective alternatives to using alcohol
  • Work in groups to develop an effective alcohol prevention message