OC students earn grant funding for campaigns to address traffic safety, underage drinking

Working through a program called Friday Night Live, some enterprising students from Orange County are taking it upon themselves to promote traffic safety and prevent underage drinking.

And now they’re about to get a little extra help — in the form of a $17,500 grant from the California Friday Night Live Partnership.

OC FNLAs we understand it, the funding comes from California’s Office of Traffic Safety through the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, and it will be distributed to four local Friday Night Live chapters through the Orange County Department of Education.

Chapters from Bolsa Grande and Santiago high schools in the Garden Grove Unified School District and Magnolia High in the Anaheim Union High School District will direct their resources toward increasing seat belt usage and curbing distracted driving. In addition, they plan to initiate an educational campaign that focuses on media literacy and highlights the marketing strategies companies use to sell alcohol.

Meanwhile, the FNL chapter associated with the Santiago de Compostela Youth Ministry in Lake Forest will use its share of the grant to target alcohol use by minors. Chapter members plan to stage a reenactment of a typical teenage house party to educate parents about the potential consequences of underage drinking, and they intend to produce a public service announcement encouraging kids to make healthy choices.

All chapters will work with local alcohol retailers to prevent access to minors.

“It’s just a great opportunity for young people in our community to participate in a statewide initiative,” Elke Petras, an OCDE program specialist, told the Newsroom.

Friday Night Live, which is organized at the state, county and local levels, is a high school youth development program that empowers students to improve conditions in their communities by taking action and setting new trends leading to positive and long-lasting change.

To be eligible for the state grant, local FNL chapter leaders took part in a traffic safety monitoring program called Roadwatch, which is administered annually by the California Friday Night Live Partnership with funding from the Allstate Foundation.

On Oct. 14, Roadwatch participants observed and documented more than 1,500 local incidents of distracted driving, ranging from talking and texting on cellphones to eating, drinking and grooming. Statewide, 28 counties participated, observing 8,378 incidents of distracted-driving behaviors.

For more information on Friday Night Live, click here.