U Need 2 Know

Thursday, July 19th, 2012
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‘Just Fishin’’: a good tool in drug prevention
By North Hawaii Drug-Free Coalition

The Trace Adkins song, “She Thinks We’re Just Fishin,’” like most country music, tells a story. In it, a dad sits on the riverbank with his little girl, and listens to her talk about “her ballet shoes and trainin’ wheels, and her kittens.” The child babbles on, but he is fully mindful of their fleeting time together.

What they’re talking about doesn’t matter nearly as much as the fact that father and daughter are talking—taking time to communicate. Even seemingly casual conversations help connect young people with their parents and other adults in the family, and that helps protect them from bad choices.

Drugs and alcohol may be tougher to talk about than ballet shoes and kittens, but small steps are a good start, and little messages add up to the big ones. And you don’t have to do it alone. There are ways to help get started, resources and sample conversations geared to different age groups online at www.TimeToTalk.org.

For example, if a favorite celebrity or sports star gets arrested or goes into rehab, you could ask how your nephew feels about that and why he thinks those things happen or what it will do to their career. If your granddaughter’s friend was involved in a DUI, ask her how she thinks that will affect her friend’s life. If you and your son watch a movie where there’s a lot of guys partying, ask how they look to him, where he thinks they’re going to be in 10 years.

Chances are good you’ll get the usual “I don’t know,” “yeah,” “I guess,” or the indefinable “meh.” Or, maybe your talk will go on a little farther; either way is fine. Remember you’re just fishin’ and that’s a start.

Here’s something to talk about, right in North Hawaii. A new documentary film, “Perils and Pearls in Paradise—Hawaii Island Alcohol Stories and Facts,” created by Holly Algood of North Kohala, will be presented at a free community Town Hall meeting at Tutu’s House in Waimea, August 3. In it, 29 Hawaii Island people talk frankly about their experience with alcohol, or, in the case of youth, they talk about ways they’ve avoided drinking. There are also interviews with parents of a child impacted by Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorders.

The film is interspersed with what may be shocking statistics about our Island’s drinking habits. For example, For instance, 6.2 percent of sixth graders admit to having used alcohol in the past 30 days; this number jumps to nearly 50 percent of 12th graders.*

One of the 29 storytellers is Lynn Witte, North Hawaii Community Hospital (NHCH) trauma coordinator.

“In the film, I talk about how hard it is for health care providers in the Emergency Room to take care of anyone, especially young people, who have been needlessly injured or killed because of alcohol-related vehicle accidents,” said Witte in her post on NHCH’s website. “We think about our own kids, the emotional distress these families feel, and all of this stays with us forever.”

“Perils and Pearls in Paradise—Hawaii Island Alcohol Stories and Facts” is part of an integrated awareness campaign for prevention of underage drinking, managed by Five Mountains Hawaii. This project is an equal opportunity program funded through the County of Hawaii – mayor’s office, Hawaii Department of Health, and the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration – Center for Substance Abuse Prevention: Strategic Prevention Framework – State Incentive Grant SPO 13944. For more information, visit www.ModelsNotBottles.org

Non-judgmental, not “preachy” and well-paced, shown in an informal setting with refreshments and talk story after, “Perils and Pearls” inspired conversation among viewers young and old, in its recent premiere at Kohala Intergenerational Center. Side-by-side with adult experts, young people were able to express their opinions and answer questions with confidence during the panel discussion. If you see the film with your kids, you could ask how they thought the panelists did, and what they might have said differently.

And, the next time you go fishin’ with kids, take time to talk, because those great little conversations that may seem like nothing at all can be part of conversations that connect and protect. And remember to listen to some music!

The North Hawaii Drug-Free Coalition, a project of Five Mountains Hawaii, is a regional volunteer organization committed to developing strong, sustaining relationships for Healthy Communities Choosing to Live Drug Free. For more information, visit www.fivemountains.org/nhdfc.

*County of Hawaii: Epidemiological Profile of Alcohol Related Behaviors Among Youth, Spring 2007; current revision May 2010, prepared by: SPF-SIG Epidemiological Team.