By ROB OATLEY On Oct. 23, students from Cranston East High School joined together with members of the Cranston Substance Abuse Prevention Task Force and Cranston Police Department as part of an effort designed to raise awareness of the dangers of buying
On Oct. 23, students from Cranston East High School joined together with members of the Cranston Substance Abuse Prevention Task Force and Cranston Police Department as part of an effort designed to raise awareness of the dangers of buying alcohol for minors.
At 2:30 p.m., 10 students went to nearby Capitol Liquor – located near Cranston East on Park Avenue – and placed stickers on bottles of alcohol that read, “If they can’t buy it, don’t supply it. You can be penalized with $1,000 in fines and jail time.”
The “Sticker Shock” initiative was put together ahead of the school’s Homecoming Dance, which took place that weekend.
“A lot of kids say that they get alcohol from older siblings, so we wanted to put that message out that you can’t supply alcohol to minors,” said Dana DeVerna, program coordinator of the task force. “With kids getting involved in this program, the more they own it, and can spread it to their friends.”
The task force was started in 1987, and in 2005 the Comprehensive Community Action Program began to oversee the organization’s leadership. The mission statement of the task force is to continually assess the needs of the residents of the city of Cranston, with the primary focus on reducing youth substance abuse.
“Cranston West has a Students Against Destructive Decisions group that they’ve had for 10 years. This is the first time that East has really had a group of kids that have been interested in doing this type of stuff with the task force,” said Katelyn Bianco, a member of the task force.
Isa Tejada, dean of students at Cranston East, said the “Sticker Shock” initiative aims to spread the message of responsibility in a new way.
“As adults, we tell these kids not to buy alcohol, but it has a different impact when kids their age are saying it as well. So, we’re hoping to really engage the kids and think about better choices,” she said. “We don’t have statistics saying that this is a problem within the school. But overall in general, it is a problem within our society, we see it. I have a teenager at home and have conversations with her about it, too.”
School Resource Officer Rob Arruda said the initiative is a positive one for the community, and that it has a chance to be influential for high school students.
“It’s a great thing that’s happening here, and Dana asked me to come support it,” he said. “We hope to get kids comfortable with the police by the time they are in high school. The culture today, people don’t like police because of social media, and we want to break that stigma.”
Capitol Liquor was chosen to participate in this event because of its close proximity to Cranston East, DeVerna said. Its owner, Aziz Kosto, was fully supportive of the initiative.
“Its absolutely a good idea that kids are taking this initiative,” he said. “We always find people trying to buy liquor illegally here. We’ll notice that they’ll have people waiting outside, and some people even offer more money for the alcohol. It’s crazy.”
Kosto’s partner, Teresa Matt, added: “We are a very strong store and we resist those trying to steal, or drink underage. We have cameras everywhere that people don’t realize. We hope other liquor stores adapt to this and get the stickers as well … Bottom line, it’s not worth it. We couldn’t sleep at night knowing that someone got hurt because of what was sold to them.”
At the end of the event, DeVerna spoke about how the task force will be making a commercial in the near future about the dangers of e-cigarettes and vaping.
“This commercial will be released on SnapChat, Instagram and Facebook,” she said. “We realized that kids don’t read the newspaper, or watch television, so we wanted to appeal to them on platforms that the use every day.”