Erin Doyle believes the best way to help kids make healthy choices about drinking is to talk to them.

“I am a really big believer in educating kids so they can make their own good choices,” said Doyle, 28, sitting at the base of the Soldier and Sailors monument in Monument Square. In front of her were her chalk drawings that said “Be Honest” and “Know the Facts.”

Doyle was one of several people participating in the “Chalk It Up to Prevention” event sponsored by 21 Reasons, a Cumberland County group that works to reduce underage drinking.

Volunteer artists sketched slogans and pictures on the plaza’s bricks and concrete.

“When it comes to health messages for kids, you can never get enough,” said the group’s project manager, Jo Morrissey. She said Friday’s event helped draw in people who were unaware of the group but supportive of the goal.

Portland police Cmdr. Vern Malloch said underage drinking has a detrimental effect on the community.

“Kids put themselves at serious risk when they’re unable to make good decisions,” Malloch said. “It might be who they go home with from a party.

“It can’t always be about enforcement, it’s got to be about prevention,” he said.

One way police are helping decrease incidences of underage drinking is by reducing the availability of alcohol. An anonymous tip delivered by the city’s new Text a Tip program suggested a Cumberland Avenue shop was selling to kids.

On Thursday night, police had an underage volunteer try to buy alcohol at Saigon Sandwich Shop and six other locations. The sandwich shop and the Xtra Mart at 754 Congress St. failed the test and were given administrative citations, Malloch said.

Overall, compliance by retailers has improved, Morrissey said. Of 900 checks last year, more than 96 percent of merchants refused to sell to someone who lacked proof of being at least 21 years old.

 

Staff Writer David Hench can be contacted at 791-6327 or at: [email protected]