FAIRMONT - There was a lot of activity before business hours Saturday at the Fairmont Municipal Liquor Store. Local law enforcement personnel joined teen and adult members of the Fairmont Substance Abuse Prevention Coalition by putting stickers and hanging tags on bottles, providing visual reminders against underage drinking.
"This is part of positive community norms," explained Erica Volkir, coalition coordinator. The stickers and tags join billboards throughout the community and posters throughout the schools, all focused on a healthy youth lifestyle.
She said the project was a great way to cap off the end of National Prevention Week, an annual health observance dedicated to increasing public awareness of, and action around, substance abuse and mental health issues. The event comes at an appropriate time, when a holiday weekend and graduations might prompt underage drinking.
IMPORTANT?MESSAGE — The hanging tags carry a message from the Fairmont Substance Abuse Prevention Coalition. (By Judy Bryan)
Data garnered from the coalition's surveys and assessments show an "actual norm and a perceived norm," Volkir said. For example, a student survey will show that eight out of nine students don't drink alcohol, but results of a different poll might indicate that people perceive that half of the students might drink alcohol.
The "Sticker Shock" campaign at the liquor store promotes the positive community norms that already exist in Fairmont, with the goal of correcting misperceptions.
Local law enforcement periodically conducts compliance checks on businesses that sell alcohol, and 26 out of 28, or 92 percent, refused to sell to a minor or someone with no identification.
"Local businesses are doing a great job," Volkir said, but there are many other, more popular ways for minors to obtain alcohol. Parents, older siblings or older friends might be coerced into breaking the law by purchasing alcohol for a minor.
The hanging tags and stickers were the coalition's way of delivering a message.
"We don't want you to provide us or our friends with alcohol," Volkir said.
"It's a nice opportunity to deliver a real positive message about being responsible - for everybody to be responsible," Fairmont Police Chief Greg Brolsma said.
Molly Meyer, liquor store manager, echoed his statement.
"We want to keep our kids safe, keep the community safe," she said. "Our No. 1 prior is control - control the sale of alcohol, and keep it away from minors."
The group affixed 1,500 stickers on bags at the liquor store and 1,500 hang tags on bottles, in addition to several posters.
"Sticker Shock" was a joint effort of YOCO Youth Coalition at Fairmont High School, FSAP members, the Fairmont Police Department and the Fairmont Municipal Liquor Store.