Northwest NEWS

December 28, 1998

Editorial

Guest Editorial

A New Year's Resolution that can change a young person's life

When you sit down to make your list of New Year's Resolutions, here's one from the U.S. Center for Substance Abuse Prevention that can make a world of difference--get involved in a young person's life.

   Today's young people are growing up faster than ever. At school, at home, and in their neighborhoods, adolescents are facing pressures and risks never before imagined.

   These children often confront mixed messages from the media and pressure from some of their peers to use alcohol, tobacco, and illicit drugs. Early adolescence is the most vulnerable age for youth to begin substance abuse and related high-risk behaviors. It is also the perfect time for adults to show a child they care.

   Adults can show young people constructive and healthy ways to enjoy their free time. They learn skills, self-discipline, and competence that last a lifetime, and studies show that these young people are much less likely to use drugs or alcohol.

   The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services' "Your Time, Their Future" public education campaign encourages adults to act as role models, and guide young people toward structured, positive activities. You can become one of the caring adults who are coaching teams, recruiting interns, organizing civic or cultural programs, and mentoring individual young people.

   Here's how you can get involved:

   For information on volunteering and mentoring opportunities in your area, call the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration's National Clearinghouse for Alcohol and Drug Information at 1-800-729-6686, or visit the "Your Time, Their Future" website at www.health.org/yourtime.

   You can help a child stay on the right track and off drugs. By giving just a few hours of your time--once a week, once a month, whatever you can spare--you can have an enormous influence. Get started this year, and make a difference for a lifetime.