‘We are not going to change the culture tomorrow, but it will happen’
TRURO – Underage drinking, community wellness and new policies relating to alcohol consumption were hot topics during a Municipal Alcohol Project meeting in Truro this week.
About 80 people gathered in Truro to discuss the initiative. The provincial effort is based on a regional approach between communities - including Colchester, Cumberland, East Hants and Pictou County - to delve into alcohol-related issues and concerns in the community and how to address them.
On Tuesday, people gathered to share their ideas on the topic, including Nova Scotia Community College (NSCC) Truro campus students, who made a video about underage drinking.
The students, all 19, were contacted by project officials to do the video, which took more than a month and is almost two minutes. It features the use of social media and what can happen when underage drinking occurs and its associated regrets. It can be seen at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HcH71oiOd48&feature=youtu.be
“We want to show there is an alternative and that you don’t have to get drunk to have a good time,” said Jonathan Vroom, a visual effects student at NSCC.
Vroom said he doesn’t drink alcohol and he’s witnessed young people getting their stomachs pumped because of over consumption.
Cameron Arseneault, a game development NSCC student, and Robert Carrigan, a visual effects student at NSCC, helped make the video. They said they are “occasional” drinkers who have seen the negative impacts of alcohol abuse. The trio was surprised to learn, during research, the average age of boys who begin drinking is 12.9 and it’s 13.1 for girls.
“All of us were shocked,” said Arseneault, adding, “I’ve seen people passed out and wouldn’t wake up so I called the cops.”
“Hopefully this video will be food for thought. I think people will watch it and appreciate but there will always be a portion of people who will ignore” the message of moderation, added Carrigan.
Feedback from the video at the gathering was positive.
Const. Bruce Lake with the Truro Police Service said social media “is what reaches youth … that’s how they communicate and it’s not preachy. I thought it was very effective.”
James Shedden, a local project co-ordinator, is confident the community discussion will lead to future success.
“I think it will lead to change because there’s dialogue. We are not going to change the culture tomorrow, but it will happen,” Shedden said, adding he hopes the students’ video will become part of a social marketing campaign.
Other goals include focusing on youth engagement, sponsorship, encouraging the Nova Scotia Liquor Corporation to “be healthier,” and addressing how language and social media impacts alcohol use. The group also hopes changes will be made provincially to reflect the drinking age, closing time of alcohol establishments and new rules for selling alcoholic beverages at sport and recreation facilities.
The Union of Nova Scotia Municipalities is working on a policy regarding the Municipal Alcohol Project. Results from the UNSM policy could impact marketing of alcohol, how it’s included in special events, implementation of noise bylaws and more.
Shedden said a report on this week’s gathering in Truro will be made and the group will continue networking with other communities.
Dr. Robert Strang, the Nova Scotia’s chief public health officer, warned the group, “this will take a decade or more. It’s easy to get frustrated with a slow pace (but) the way to make it work is to bring the community together.”