“You Matter” – the message is simple, yet powerful, and one that high school students don’t hear often enough. With more Maine children living in poverty than before the recession, and 82,000 children living in households where their parents lack secure employment, the message that they matter is often lost and replaced with worries about shelter, food, and money.
In a recent survey of high school students in southern Kennebec county, only 50 percent of all surveyed students felt that they mattered to their community, and 25 percent reported feeling sad or hopeless. Telling our children that they matter is an important way to help them avoid substance misuse to ease their fears, insecurities, and troubles.
According to the Maine Integrated Youth Health Survey, 24 percent of high school students in southern Kennebec County drank alcohol in the past 30 days, while 62 percent thought it was easy to obtain alcohol. Among those who drank alcohol, 39.7 percent reported that someone had given it to them, while 49.7 percent reported that they hadn’t been caught by their parents for drinking alcohol.
Fortunately, alcohol use among high school students has decreased over the years, from 31 percent in 2009 to 24 percent in 2015; however, HCCA has made it their mission to continue to educate Maine youth about the dangers of underage drinking, with hopes to see this percentage continue to decline.
The “You Matter” campaign hopes to help high school students realize that the dangers of underage drinking, and most importantly alcohol can impact their health, safety, and academic success. The campaign also aims to communicate a very important message that everyone in our community matters and we care about each other.