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Choose Wisely: Preventing Underage Drinking In East Hawaiʻi

Choose Wisely: Preventing Underage Drinking in East Hawaiʻi

The East Hawai‘i Drug-Free Coalition (EHDFC), in partnership with the University of Hawaiʻi at Hilo, School of Nursing (UH Hilo SON), and the Office of the Prosecuting Attorney, Hawai‘i County, educated 44 Kea‘au High School juniors and seniors about the short-term and long-term effects of alcohol use in the pilot project Choose Wisely, Say NO to Underage Drinking. UH Hilo SON seniors Ryclan Bernal, a Kea‘au High graduate, and Niña Nabor from Kealakehe High, both young adults from Hawai‘i Island, educated two science classes on the effects of underage drinking and local resources to help them if they or a friend need assistance with alcohol use. 

Rita Miller, Special Projects Coordinator, Crime Prevention Unit, County of Hawai‘i – Office of the Prosecuting Attorney, conducted a hands-on activity with students to understand low and high levels of impairment when using alcohol. Using impaired goggles, students had to complete simple tasks such as walking, picking up an item, and sorting simple shapes and colors, which were much more difficult if impaired. Students understood how alcohol affects their judgment, abilities, and decision-making. 

The EHDFC Vice-Chair shared the impactful story of her experience as a 16-year-old, surviving a horrific car crash caused by impaired youth drivers that took the lives of three of her friends. According to a follow-up survey completed after the presentation, her story resonated with the students, who stated that their most significant takeaway was not to drink and never drive impaired. 

At the conclusion of the presentation, nearly all students pledged to Choose Wisely and refrain from underage drinking as they attended prom and graduation celebrations. Keaʻau has displayed the Choose Wisely banner to encourage all students to do the same.

For a presentation or more information about the East Hawaiʻi Drug-Free Coalition, please contact Sally Ancheta, Coalition Coordinator, at

Sally Ancheta

Sally Ancheta

East Hawai‘i Drug-Free Coalition Coordinator
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