"Some parents are still hosting teen drinking parties," says Reiley Lewis, SRSLY's full-time paid program director. "And they take the car keys from the kids thinking this solves the problem."
On a recent weekday evening, a small group of moms gathers in the library at Pierce Lake Elementary to talk frankly about children, alcohol, and drugs. It's the first session of SRSLY's Guiding Good Choices program, aimed at parents of nine- to fourteen-year-olds.
"What are your hopes and dreams for your child?" asks facilitator Shannon Steinbach, a Chelsea Community Hospital employee who's volunteering with SRSLY. "Substance abuse can destroy these dreams," she points out. "Our goal is to do everything we can now to bubble-wrap-or build protective layers-around our children so they make good choices." Steinbach and co-facilitator Sara Wild, also a hospital employee, talk about sharing clear standards of behavior, taking time to bond with children, teaching them new skills, and giving recognition when it's due.
Guiding Good Choices was developed by researchers at the University of Washington and has been tested in several states. Kids whose parents attend the program are less likely to use drugs and alcohol than their peers, Lewis says.