How one Platte County student is changing the conversation about underage drinking…
What do you do when you notice a problem? You talk about it! But when the problem is even bigger than your own social circle, how do you talk to your whole school about it? For Mason Salehi – a senior at Platte County High School and a member of his school’s DECA club – the answer was obvious: he created an entire media campaign highlighting the problem. That problem? Underage drinking.
“There’s a few groups of students in school who usually talk about drinking, usually at parties,” Mason said. “It’s a small community, so it’s not hard to find someone to buy it.”
Mason saw a problem that needed a solution, and soon he started work on his senior project for his Advanced Marketing class.
“There aren’t a lot of organizations that incorporate peer-to-peer conversations that focus on the risks of underage drinking.” Mason had previously taken part in the Arrive Alive campaign that focuses on the dangers of driving under the influence, but Mason emphasized that drinking itself is harmful to the developing brain. “Drinking and driving is dangerous, but there are other risks with alcohol use that doesn’t involve driving.”
Mason has the facts on his side. Studies have shown that excessive drinking can lead to long-term cognitive impairments and hinder brain development. Alcohol consumption in teens has been shown to disrupt crucial brain functions that affect memory, decision-making, and overall cognitive abilities. Furthermore, early exposure to alcohol can increase the likelihood of developing addiction to substances later in life.
“Drinking can ruin your studies, it can ruin your health, and it can ruin your relationships,” said Mason. “Students are told that drinking is bad, but they rarely have context to apply that to. I want to make students consider the message in a new light.”
“Teens don’t drink to end up in these situations, but alcohol can too often lead to these dangerous situations.”
Mason’s campaign – Butt Out Booze – focuses directly on these different contexts. Underage drinking can cause problems in school due to alcohol interfering with the natural teenage brain development. This can mean that drinking can not only have a lasting impact on your high school GPA, but can even potentially affect your ability to learn later on in life. Alcohol also affects your decision-making skills and can cause teens to take more risks, which can include unsafe sexual behavior or physical violence. Teens don’t drink to end up in these situations, but alcohol can too often lead to these dangerous situations.
But Mason has hope for his fellow students. “I’ve noticed that more kids are coming up to my table and are talking about [the risks of drinking]. I think that speaking to the different situations is more effective than just saying not to drink.”
As Mason demonstrates, changes starts with just one person trying to make a difference. He saw the need and made a plan, and for that GrowStrongKC salutes him. Way to go, Mason!