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Teens Leading the Way remind adults not to buy alcohol for minors

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“Sticker shock” has become an annual program by Teens Leading the Way (TLTW) to prevent adults from purchasing alcohol for minors. This is its third year.

Each spring, students with TLTW in the Walker-Hackensack-Akeley, Pine River-Backus and Northland school district communities label alcohol containers with stickers reminding adults that it is a crime to buy alcohol for minors. They target specific types of alcohol more than others, like wine coolers and beer.

“We generally want to make sure we are targeting products kids are probably drinking,” said Kelly Felton, Working Together Coalition (WTC) substance abuse prevention specialist.

Approximately 40 TLTW students across all of the involved communities set out to distribute 8,000 stickers this year, with the hope they would deter the crime of procuring alcohol for minors.

“I think it’s a great idea, and I just hope people realize it can get them into trouble if they give alcohol to minors,” said senior Kristle Peltier. “Once they see that it does get them into trouble, they might think twice about it.”

This project is also accepted by local liquor store owners like Scott Schube of the 371 Liquor Locker.

“I think it’s a good way to get the message out. If you have it in the establishment, that’s where people get the product. So I think it’s a very effective tool to get the word out,” Schube said. “I think it’s really good that they drive it. There’s a bigger lesson in life there, I think.”

Felton said the most common way for minors to get access to alcohol is through adults who buy it for them. This program is meant to curb that number. TLTW and the WTC target the weekends before Memorial Day and high school graduation for the sticker shock campaign to serve as a reminder to adults during times when parties are common.

“In the end, we want our kids to be safe and healthy. And by providing them alcohol, it’s not allowing for that to happen. There’s a lot that goes into that, too. The brain isn’t fully developed until they are 25 years old, and you can’t be putting alcohol into that at such a young age and expect them to make good decisions,” Felton said. “It’s just a different and unique way to get our message out there. We’re doing things all year long, doing different types of strategies. This specifically allows for us to have other people having conversations. It’s not common to see a sticker on your case of beer saying, ‘Don’t provide this to an underage person.’”