Hi, my name is Annie Longfritz and I am the leader and founder of the Wayland, MA Girl Talk chapter. I’m currently a senior at Wayland High School and this is second spring of our chapter.
Last year, I had the idea to include a lesson about alcohol consumption. Underage drinking is reasonably popular at my high school, and as someone who is against underage drinking, I wanted to make sure the 8th grade girls knew that NOT EVERY ONE DRINKS IN HIGH SCHOOL and you don’t need to do it to have fun or be accepted. We discussed health, legal, and social implications of drinking in small groups so the girls, both middle schoolers and high schoolers alike, would feel more comfortable talking about it. That being said, to avoid sounding like unreasonable and didactic health teachers, we also touched base upon how to safely drink or what to do if a friend drank too much and needed help, because whether they choose or not to drink in high school, we want them to be safe, healthy and happy.
After discussing in small groups, I decided we would need some comic relief after such a serious topic. I borrowed a few drunk goggles from the local police station – these are goggles that distort your vision and depth perception and make it extremely hard (and fun to try) to walk. They show you not how it feels when you’re drunk, but how incapable you are and how dumb you look to other people as you’re stumbling around when you’re drunk. We set up a relay race in the gymnasium involving things such as cartwheels and jumping through hula hoops, and it was hysterical! It was an absolute blast. Afterwards, we all came together as a large group and discussed what we learned in our small groups, the important things they took away from the discussions, and also answered any more questions or addressed any more fears that they had.
One of the high school mentors had a brother in the same grade as the 8th grade mentees, and the next day he told her that he overheard one of the girls on the bus claiming that she was now morally against underage drinking and made all of her friends pinky promise to never do so in high school which literally warmed my heart when the mentor told me about it. Also, at the end of the year I distributed anonymous surveys, and one of the questions asked what the 8th graders’ favorite lessons were, and the overwhelming majority said the underage drinking lesson. It felt great to know I was actually making a difference for these girls, and I hope the lessons they learned that day stick with them during their high school years!