Houston Chronicle

To Avoid Abuse

Alcohol Awareness Class Held in Kingwood Helps Change Lives of Students

By TOMMY LeVRIER, Chronicle correspondent June 12, 2002, 6:46PM

Shanna Stauffacher has the distinction of passing all of the 150 students in her Alcohol Awareness Program for minors in Kingwood.

Stauffacher meets with the kids 6-9 p.m. the first Monday and Tuesday of each month at the Lake Houston Family YMCA, 2420 W. Lake Houston Blvd.

"The kids call it M.I.P. or Minors in Possession," she said. "It's a standardized state program for minors who have been given citations for possession of alcohol."

The former elementary teacher trained at Texas A&M University to gain her certificate to teach the course. The program is overseen by the Texas Commission of Alcohol and Drug Abuse. The six-hour course is divided into two, three-hour classes which kids can take over two or three nights.

"Kids are given a court date and a judge usually assigns them to a class similar to this one," Stauffacher said. "They have to pay for the classes out of their own pocket. They may also be required to do community service hours."

Classes average from 16-20 kids, ranging 12 to 22 years of age. Topics they cover include social values, alcohol and the advertising industry, how alcohol affects the vision, brain and body, alcohol and young people, alcohol laws, alcohol and accidents and stages of alcohol abuse.

"The most important topic is decision making," she said. "We assist with quality decisions in regard to alcohol. We also do a profile of drinking patterns and an exit interview where they state how the class effected their alcohol decisions in the future. Most say their eyes are opened, particularly around drinking and driving."

TCADA research shows there has been an increase in recent years of minors drinking alcohol.

Finding these classes can often be a problem for kids in trouble.

Information on classes can be obtained through Alcohol Awareness Associates at 281-359-6126. Their Web site, www.AlcoholAwarenessAssociates.com, offers links to other alcohol and drug assistance organizations, including TCADA.

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