Kick-off event for countywide initiative emphasizes importance of saying ‘no’ to underage drinking

Composite image: background image shows map of Washington County, foreground image shows a mother stopping her son from underage drinking perils, locations and dates not specified | Background image from Wikipedia, foreground image courtesy of Parents Empowered, St. George News

ST. GEORGE – With kids returning to school and their peers, St. George Mayor Jon Pike has joined several key partners in both the public and private sector throughout Washington County to launch an important countywide initiative urging parents to set clear family rules about no underage drinking. Pike will be in attendance with many of these partners at an event Thursday at noon to kick off the initiative.

Answering the mayor’s call to action, Intermountain Healthcare, Washington County School District and several local businesses have partnered with Parents Empowered, the state underage drinking prevention initiative, to remind Washington County residents of the negative consequences of teen drinking and what parents can do to prevent it.

“We are very proud of the countywide commitment from both the public and private sectors to keep our kids alcohol-free,” Pike said. “We understand the life-long implications alcohol can have on a developing teen, and we aim to ensure all teens grow up free from the potential devastation caused by underage drinking.”

Leadership from Intermountain Healthcare and Washington County will join Pike to formally launch the initiative at a press event on Thursday at noon in the main lobby of the Intermountain Healthcare’s River Road Clinic, located at 577 S. River Road in St. George. The event is also open to public.

Speakers on Thursday will include the mayor; Dr. Marty Nygaard, a pediatrician at Intermountain Healthcare; Dr. Del Beatty, dean of students at Dixie State University; Captain Kyle Whitehead, St. George Police Department; Larry Bergeson, Washington County School District superintendent; and Teresa Willie, licensed prevention specialist for Southwest Behavioral Health.

Speakers will showcase the campaign, discuss the expected results from the partnership, share the latest research findings related to underage drinking in Washington County – data from the Student Health and Risk Prevention survey – and answer questions about the dangers of underage drinking.

As part of the partnership, Intermountain Healthcare will feature custom messages throughout the clinic that remind parents of the harmful effects of underage drinking and what can be done to prevent it.

“New research shows just how harmful alcohol is to the developing teen brain, robbing our kids of bright, healthy futures,” Nygaard said. “We see this initiative as a fantastic opportunity to share an important message with parents about how they can influence their teen’s decision of whether he or she will drink or not.”

The featured messages range from large column wraps to full doorway messages. In addition to the messages at several Intermountain Healthcare clinics, the Washington County School District has place complementary messages on more than 125 school buses.

Underage drinking has a dramatic negative impact on the development of our young children,” Bergeson said. “Teen drinking can cause long-term damage to the developing teen brain, impacting learning, good judgement and impulse control.”

About Parents Empowered

Parents Empowered is a statewide campaign focused on eliminating underage drinking in Utah. Its primary goals are to educate parents about the dangers of underage drinking and provide them with proven skills to help their children remain alcohol-free. More information is available online

Event details

  • What: Kick-off event for countywide Parents Empowered initiative
  • When: Thursday, Aug. 17, at noon.
  • Where: Main lobby of Intermountain Healthcare’s River Road Clinic, 577 S. River Road, St. George.
  • This event is free and open to the public

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