The Lake of the Woods County Prevention Coalition established its vision of “Creating a community culture that empowers youth to be alcohol, tobacco and drug free.” It takes a dedicated and ever-growing team of people working together to realize this vision. This month’s LWPC Spotlight features Corrections Officer/E911 Dispatcher and coalition member, Sandy Peterson.
Why do you feel passionate about the youth in our community?
Sandy: I’ve lived in Lake of the Woods County since I was a child. I have dozens of family members living here and many close friends from all generations. I’ve been an active volunteer in many youth oriented activities over the years and it’s very close to being true when I say I know everyone in the county. Because of this and my work at the Sheriff’s Office, I’ve seen firsthand the negative consequences that occur when alcohol use and “partying” begins at too early an age.
In your opinion, what are you most proud of that the coalition has done or is working on?
Sandy: We’re in the early stages of this project, but as the weeks go on, I hear many conversations showing that we are already getting the message out that we are a community working together for the good of our youth; that most Lake of the Woods County youth are not drinking alcohol on a regular basis and that we are focusing on the positive and not the negative to reach this goal.
What has been your favorite project so far?
Sandy: One of our tasks has been to interview 100 members of the community from various sectors, learning their opinions, ideas & suggestions. It was extremely interesting to hear the thoughts & experiences of so many of the people who live here; to see how different we are and yet how much we have in common.
It’s also been really fun to help plan the activity night events that are giving kids a safe place to have an evening of fun with their friends.
What impact do you believe the coalition has made on the Community? The youth?
Sandy: We are hearing from community members that this project is worthwhile and we really can make a difference. Most of the youth and the adults are very receptive. They believe in the mission and want to help.
In your own words, tell what the Lake of the Woods County Prevention Coalition does.
Sandy: The Coalition is educating the community & providing tools necessary to reduce underage drinking in Lake of the Woods County.
If underage drinking is reduced in our county, how can/will that affect our community now and in the future?
Sandy: The cost of irresponsible drinking is enormous in dollars, community resources & lost productivity. We can reduce this and at the same time, increase the positive effects that happier, healthier people bring to a community.
What are some ways you think people can support the prevention of underage drinking?
Sandy: Visit with coalition members to learn more about our project. Don’t provide alcohol to youth, either intentionally or unintentionally by making it available to youth. Talk to your kids. Know what they are doing, where they are going and who they are with. Show by example that alcohol does not need to be a part of every celebration and event.