(ASAP) On Friday, the Anderson County community came together to celebrate the work that has been done to reduce underage drinking and launch the I AM ONE campaign to the entire community.
The I AM ONE campaign was created by a collaboration among the Anderson County Underage Drinking Task Force partners, ASAP (Allies for Substance Abuse Prevention) of Anderson County, and ASAP Youth Ambassadors. For the past few years, the I AM ONE campaign has focused on educating youth that in fact, a majority of their peers choose not to use alcohol and asking them to proclaim “I AM ONE who will not drink underage” as well as asking adults to commit to saying “I AM ONE who will not provide alcohol to minors.” At the event, everyone in Anderson County was urged to say “I AM ONE” and do their part to be proactive against underage drinking and other substance abuse in the community.
Stephanie Strutner explained that each community member plays an important role in protecting our young people. Law enforcement agencies and first responders are participating in campaigns, facilitating medication disposal, and conducing compliance check; the Anderson County Health Department collaborates on campaign messages; school systems are participating in the organization of educational opportunities for students, including the upcoming Blake McMeans presentation; youth ambassadors are taking a leadership role in their community; businesses are maintaining compliance with underage drinking laws and for training your employees in responsible alcohol sales; elected officials are being proactive by adopting policies to establish a community infrastructure that supports healthy behaviors; parents in are having open communication with their children and committing to never provide alcohol to a minor. These are just a few of the examples of the work that is being done and this work has paid off.
Eight years ago, underage drinking was identified as a primary concern in Anderson County. At that time, 1 in 5 adolescents engaged in underage drinking every month, but because of those community efforts, the rate of Anderson County students who say they have drank in the past 30 days when surveyed has decrease by over 57%; however, to ensure that needle continues to move in the right direction the community must come together as one. This effort is supported by the Tennessee Highway Safety Office, the Tennessee Department of Mental Health and Substance Abuse Services, and the Office of National Drug Control Policy as well as local support.
Anderson County High School Student and ASAP Youth Ambassador, Ally Perry, explained the I AM ONE campaign is important and urged everyone to join the movement. Local law enforcement including the Anderson County Sheriff’s Office, Clinton Police Department, Norris Police Department, Oak Ridge Police Department, Oliver Springs Police Department, Rocky Top Police Department, 7th Judicial District Crime Task Force, and Clinton Fire Department showed their support for this campaign by applying the I AM ONE decal to their vehicles and officially unveiled them to the community. Local business, agencies, and individuals at the event were also able to proclaim “I AM ONE” and receive a decal to place on their business or vehicle.