RUMFORD – Jessica Duguay, a junior from Mountain Valley High School, and Melissa Harvey, a senior from Dirigo High School, presented the results of a survey conducted by the Youth Empowerment and Policy Project to the Rumford Area Rotary Club at a recent meeting.

The project brings together students from around the state to develop findings and recommendations about drug and alcohol policy. The goal is to change factors in the social, legal, economic and political environment that encourage, enable or support underage drinking.

The philosophy is that, because underage drinking is a problem affecting the youth population, the most effective way to analyze and improve the environment is to involve the youth in the discussion.

The project surveyed about 500 young people age 13 to 18 from across the state: 19 percent were middle school youth and the rest were high school student with relatively equal numbers of males and females.

There were three basic findings, Duguay and Harvey said: Youth are exposed to an overwhelming amount of alcohol marketing from TV ads to T-shirts to community festivals; these ads appeal to underage individuals and most youth feel they are targeted by the marketing; youth believe that alcohol advertising influences youth to drink.

The initial six coalitions involved in the project are the River Valley Healthy Communities Coalition, KEYS for Promise, Healthy Androscoggin, Coalition of Western Maine, Building Communities and the River Coalition.

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