Two local mayors have issued proclamations in support of an effort by Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD) to prevent underage drinking in Pennsylvania.
Monessen Mayor Louis Mavrakis and West Newton Mayor Mary Popovich were among 18 mayors across Pennsylvania that issued proclamations declaring Thursday PowerTalk 21 Day, MADD’s national day for parents to begin ongoing conversations with their kids about alcohol.
“It’s got to start in the home,” Mavrakis said of family discussions about the dangers of alcohol, noting that MADD’s initiative comes just before the start of high school prom and graduation party season, which he said often features underage drinking.
“Parents have to engage with children,” Popovich said.
Popovich said she has been an emergency medical services volunteer for more than 40 years and as a state-certified paramedic, had seen “way too many people” killed by drunk drivers.
“It affects someone,” Popovich said. “That’s someone’s child.”
Popovich and Mavrakis said they were notified of the PowerTalk 21 Day initiative by MADD’s state office, instantly recognizing the need to raise awareness about danger of drinking and driving.
“Monessen, as far as I’m concerned, we’re a drug distribution center,” Mavrakis said. “Alcohol, that comes with the turf. We have that problem all through here, and so do other places. As a kid, you’ve got that peer pressure. If you don’t drink, you’re a sissy, you’re persona non grata.”
MADD was founded in 1980 by a mother whose daughter was killed by a drunk driver. The organization will offer free 15-minute online workshops for middle school and high school parents Thursday, stating that three out of four kids and teens say that their parents, not their peers, are the biggest influence on their decisions about alcohol.