Santa Monica parents, educators and concerned residents are invited to take part in an event Saturday intended to educate them about the current realities of underage drinking and drug use at teen parties, other wise known as a Reality Party.

According to the California Healthy Kids Survey 2014 – 2015, an SMMUSD survey showed 50% of high school juniors say they drink at least one per month. Similarly, the Santa Monica Cradle to Career Youth Wellbeing Report Card in 2014 said 1 in 3 students reported binge drinking in the last 30 days.

Those are just the numbers. Since Jan. 2017, there have been two local Santa Monica teens who have passed away, Andre Zuczek and Leslie Hernandez. Zuczek, 15, was experimenting with LSD when he fell off an apartment building. Hernandez, 17, was found along the bank of the Los Angeles River in Long Beach. Authorities say her death is being investigated as a possible drug overdose.

The two tragic losses has lead to the Reality Party. The event will offer parents a tour of a mock teen house party. Students from Santa Monica High School will depict scripted yet realistic scenes of overindulgent drinking games, the pressure to binge drink and the availability and accessibility of popular drugs.

The party is meant to simulate a high school party and allows tour participants to view various scenes at a mock house party depicting binge drinking, drinking games, marijuana, prescription drug use and the risk of alcohol and sex.

This is the third annual Reality Party in Santa Monica, and is meant to bring awareness and turn the spotlight onto youth substance use.

“It’s a very eye-opening experience for adults. A survey of last year’s attendees showed they were most surprised to learn about the role of social media when it comes to getting the word out about parties and posting pictures,” Dana Sherrod, Representative of the Westside Impact Project.

After the tour the debriefing session will be conducted by a panel of law enforcement, school administrators, substance abuse counselors, parents and youth in recovery to discuss what happened during the tour. Also to review possible strategies for creating change about underage drinking and drug use.

By highlighting the issues and bringing the community together, the party can help parents understand the problems and issues that arise in underage parties, and in the future could possibly prevent them.

The Reality Party is sponsored by CLARE Foundation and the Westside Impact Project, in conjunction with the City of Santa Monica, the Santa Monica Police Department, and the Santa Monica Unified School District.

“The Reality Party is important for parents because it allows them to experience firsthand the realities of what is happening at parties today. They can then have more relevant and meaningful conversations with their teens around drug and alcohol use,” Sherrod said.

She explains so far the reaction to these parties has been positive and hopes the event will prevent more tragedies from occurring.

The event is open to adults only, especially parents of students in grades 6-12. It will take place at CLARE Conscious Recovery, 1334 Lincoln Blvd from 2:00 p.m. to 7:00 p.m.

For more information you can call CLARE foundation at (310) 314-6200 or visit http://clarefoundation.org/contact/.

marina@smdp.com

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