By LINDSAY CAREY
Southington’s Town-wide Effort to Promote Success (STEPS) Coalition has recently launched a new public service announcement (PSA) revealing a statistic about how children who drink are getting their alcohol.
A survey of Southington students in grades 7, 9, and 11 is conducted every two years and the most recent survey revealed that 44.5 percent of Southington students who reported drinking are getting alcohol from their home with or without parent’s permission.
STEPS is using this statistic as a campaign for parents who may not realize how accessible the alcohol in their home is.
STEPS collaborated with CoxMedia to make a commercial, which is currently airing on ESPN, Bravo, MSNBC, and the Food Network—channels parents typically watch.
A PSA from this campaign is also running through AMP radio at gas stations.
“We’re using it as a wake up call for parents. Don’t leave alcohol unattended,” said Youth Prevention Coordinator for STEPS Kelly Leppard.
Not only is the commercial informing parents that children could be getting alcohol right at home, it also describes ways they can stop this from happening.
“By monitoring the alcohol in your home and eliminating their access –you will help reduce underage drinking,” says the PSA. “Don’t be the reason your children have access to alcohol.”
STEPS is a client of CoxMedia and has done PSA’s for the organization in the past.
Producer at CoxMedia Donna Fontano has worked with STEPS not only professionally, but personally. Her own children are Southington students who have been involved with the organization.
Through her job, Fontano even applied for STEPS to receive a grant from Cox Charities and was awarded $1,000, which helped fund the commercial campaign.
When another opportunity to help STEPS came along, she was more than happy to contribute. Fontano said she was contacted by Leppard about the initiative, and she shot the commercial for the campaign.
“We wanted to have it look like the kids have just gotten home from school, and they can just go in the fridge and pull out a beer, because we wanted to provide the awareness that it is that easy for your kids to get alcohol,” said Fontano. “I don’t think a lot of parents realize that.”
As a parent, Fontano said that the 44.5 percent statistic opened her eyes.
“Parents should have their eyes open and think, ‘Well, maybe I should move the hard alcohol somewhere else or keep an eye on how much I have at home,’” said Fontano. “Hopefully the commercial encourages parents to do that.”
Instead of leaving alcohol in places where it’s accessible to children, STEPS is advising parents to keep track of the amount of alcohol in their home and perhaps move it to a place that is out of sight or beyond their reach.
“Take stock of what’s in the house or provide some kind of barrier between the kids and the alcohol,” said Leppard.
To learn more about STEPS, visit www.SouthingtonSTEPS.org.