‘SUP Medway Prevention Coalition Launches First Community-wide Campaign ‘Building Bright Brains’
Director of Wellness Dr. Ryan Sherman and ‘SUP (Substance Use Prevention) Medway Coalition Program Coordinator Stephanie Simeon are pleased to announce the recent launch of the coalition’s first community-wide campaign.
The “Building Bright Brains” campaign is a series of initiatives that will be rolled out throughout the year. Through the campaign, ‘SUP Medway aims to share the message with parents and adolescents that brains continue developing until age 25 and choices made during youth can change the structure of the brain for better or worse.
The goal is to empower both teens and their parents with tips on what “boosts” the brain and facts on what to avoid so as to not “bust” -- or hinder -- brain development. “Boosts” may include eating meals together as a family, reading, and drinking water. “Busts” are activities that are risky to the structural development of young brains, including harmful and addictive drugs like alcohol and nicotine.
Building Bright Brains was created after ‘SUP Medway assessed local resources and challenges and set strategic goals. The group identified that many people seem to recognize and take action to prevent the dangers of drinking and driving, yet it may not be as widely understood that alcohol is dangerous even when not behind the wheel, especially for young people.
Though the majority of Medway youth do not drink alcohol, which is shown consistently in student survey data from 2008 to present, focus groups conducted by the ‘SUP Medway coalition have revealed that drinking among high-school age youth is considered “normalized.”
According to data from the 2021 MetroWest Adolescent Health Survey, Medway youth who reported drinking alcohol were most likely to get alcohol from parties, yet a ‘SUP Medway Parent Survey from the fall of 2022 showed that 9 out of 10 Medway parents are not okay with their child drinking alcohol at others’ homes before they turn 21. Getting alcohol from home with their parents’ knowledge is another top way Medway youth access alcohol according to the MetroWest Adolescent Health Survey and focus groups of Medway students.
“It is concerning that many teens are getting alcohol from home,” said Carolynne Benedetto, a resident, parent, ‘SUP Medway coalition member, and president of the Medway Secondary Parent Teacher Organization (MSPTO). “Also, young people don’t understand that drinking alcohol can be dangerous even when they’re not planning to drink and drive.”
“We’ve gotten the sense that some parents may tolerate underage drinking if they think their child will not be driving drunk,” Simeon said. “Yet science shows us that the dangers of consuming alcohol before the age of 21 can include impairment to brain functions and increased risk of addiction to alcohol.”
The campaign’s first initiative is to raise awareness and share information through a series of Facebook posts, followed by engaging residents by tabling at community events. ‘SUP Medway is also working toward bringing in a professional speaker and launching an online educational module for adults that will include practical information about brain development and how that information can help with parenting.
To learn more or support these local prevention initiatives, visit SUPMedway.com and share the #buildingbrightbrains campaign posts on Facebook at facebook.com/SUPMedway/.
About ‘SUP Medway:
‘SUP Medway is a youth substance use prevention coalition of town personnel, students, parents, and community professionals from various industries. The coalition’s mission is to engage the full Medway community to prevent the use of alcohol, drugs and tobacco among Medway youth. The work of the coalition is intended to be a broad and long-term look at aspects and influences within the community and changes that could be made community-wide to further prevention work