JUPITER, FL– Congressman Allen West (R-FL) along with his wife, Dr. Angela Graham-West, and The Century Council, a non-profit dedicated to combating binge drinking among teenage girls, visited local high schools today to encourage students to start chapters of Girl Talk: Choices and Consequences of Underage Drinking. Girl Talk is a student-to-student mentoring program that pairs middle school girls with high school girls who serve as mentors. The program promotes leadership skills and positive decision-making, saying “no” to underage drinking, making positive life choices and building self-esteem.
“I am the father of two teenage daughters, and my wife and I have personally seen the pressures they face growing up,” West said. “As parents, we know we can only do and say so much, and that their friends also have an influence. I encourage students to start a chapter of Girl Talk and stand as a united front when dealing with the pressures in school.”
Congressman West and his wife, Dr. Angela Graham-West, visited both Dwyer High School in Palm Beach Gardens and Jupiter High School in Jupiter to talk with students and teachers about the Girl Talk program. Graham-West, who volunteers in her personal time as an adult mentor to teenagers, spoke personally of what she has encountered during her time as a mentor.
“Underage drinking is the root of so many problems,” Graham-West told students. “Girls who drink are most likely to have premarital sex, get pregnant, or even die as a result of a car accident or alcohol poisoning. “
Graham-West told schools she specifically supports the Girl Talk program because she believes it’s a great way to form bonds, friendships and encourage older girls to help the younger girls along the road during the difficult teen years.
“I love the idea of having the older girls in school mentor the younger girls,” Dr. Graham-West continued. ” Too often, girls are pitted against each other in competition. We girls need to stick together!”
Statistics show 26 percent of Florida high school students admitted to binge drinking in the past year.
Children who begin drinking by age 13 have a 38 percent higher risk of developing alcohol dependence later in life, according to the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism.
The Century Council, a national not-for-profit organization with a mission to eliminate drunk driving and underage drinking among teens, created the Girl Talk: Choices and Consequences of Underage Drinking lesson to improve dialogue between mothers and daughters and their peers. Girl Talk has helped initiate and sustain conversations about alcohol in other communities around the country and hopes to do the same in Palm Beach County.
“Girls need to be informed of the toll that underage drinking can take on their health and also on other aspects of their lives,” said Ralph Blackman, President and CEO of The Century Council. “We want all teenagers to know that underage drinking has many negative consequences and we hope these kinds of programs will encourage them to discuss this with their parents.”
For more information on Girl Talk, visit www.centurycouncil.org
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