ATLANTA — Today, Olympic Sprinter Tyson Gay encouraged students at Sylvan Hills Middle School to “say ‘YES’ to a healthy lifestyle and ‘NO’ to underage drinking.” As an ambassador for The Foundation for Advancing Alcohol Responsibility’s Ask, Listen, Learn: Kids and Alcohol Don’t Mix program, Gay reminded students of the importance of making healthy decisions to reach their goals.
Sylvan Hills Middle School was one of three grand prize winners of the 2012 Ask, Listen, Learn Challenge. Administered by the National Association for Sport and Physical Education (NASPE), 30 schools from across the country participated in the 2 week challenge in April. Centered on Ask, Listen, Learn, the challenge raised awareness of the dangers and consequences of underage drinking and benefits of making healthy choices during Alcohol Awareness Month. Each of the three grand prize winning schools won the opportunity to receive a visit from an Olympian from the 2012 Summer Games and a $1,000 voucher from Sportime for new physical education equipment.
Gay challenged a few lucky kids to test their fast feet against him in the running competitions on Ask, Listen, Learn’s interactive game. The game enables middle school kids to learn about the negative consequences of underage drinking and benefits of making healthy decisions while they exercise. The premise is based on research by Harvard Medical School’s Dr. John Ratey, showing that for a person’s brain to function at its peak; the body needs to move. The multimedia program includes the game, print materials, and a supporting website that provides a pledge kids to live a healthy lifestyle and an opportunity to play online games and read about likeminded role models. The website also dedicates an area for parents and educators which provides information and strategies to help jumpstart the conversation about the dangers of underage drinking.
“Kids are the future and I take that very seriously,” said Gay. “We have to make sure that we are teaching our kids about the dangers that accompany underage drinking. As an athlete, I know all about making healthy decisions – whether it’s about eating right, drinking, or deciding who to hang out with. I’d like to impress upon these kids that your everyday choices are just as important as your choices on the track or in the pool.”
Sylvan Hills Middle School Principal Mr. Artesza Portee praised The Foundation for Advancing Alcohol Responsibility’s efforts to reach kids on this important issue. “This is a truly innovative program that is sure to hit home with kids and hopefully spark a conversation between them and their parents surrounding underage drinking. It’s important that kids understand that the choices they make today – good or bad – will have a lasting impact on their lives.”
“With 33% of teens saying that they have tried alcohol by the time they reach the eighth grade and 5% of 12 to 14 year olds saying that they have had alcohol in the past month, this program couldn’t be more important,” said Ralph Blackman of The Foundation for Advancing Alcohol Responsibility. “Since the program’s inception, there has been a 32% reduction in the current consumption rates among 8th graders. It’s important for parents to begin the conversation about underage drinking early and to have it often – which is exactly what we are trying to jumpstart here today.”
About Ask, Listen, Learn
Ask, Listen, Learn was developed more than seven years ago and is the most widely distributed alcohol education program of its kind. Ask, Listen, Learn’s new initiatives include:
Asklistenlearn.com encourages kids to “say ‘YES’ to a healthy lifestyle and ‘NO’ to underage drinking” by offering kids interactive and educational games and videos.
- Any kid can become a member of the Ask, Listen, Learn Team by taking a pledge to make healthy choices.
- Ask, Listen, Learn utilizes role models such as swimmer Rebecca Soni, Paralympic swimmer Mallory Weggemann, track stars Tyson Gay and Bryan Clay, and the most decorated athlete in Taekwondo, Steven Lopez, as “Superstars.” Superstars encourage kids to make responsible decisions and live a healthy lifestyle.
About The Foundation for Advancing Alcohol Responsibility
The Foundation for Advancing Alcohol Responsibility, is a national not-for-profit leader in the fight to eliminate drunk driving and underage drinking and is funded by the following distillers: Bacardi U.S.A., Inc.; Beam, Inc.; Brown-Forman; Constellation Brands, Inc.; DIAGEO; Hood River Distillers, Inc.; and Pernod Ricard USA. Headquartered in Arlington, Virginia, The Foundation for Advancing Alcohol Responsibility promotes responsible decision making regarding beverage alcohol and develops and implements innovative programs and public awareness campaigns which ignite action through strategic partnerships. Established in 1991, The Foundation for Advancing Alcohol Responsibility’s initiatives are highlighted on its website at www.responsibility.org and www.asklistenlearn.org.