Underage drinking is focus of new Taproot videosA series of three films focusing on underage drinking — including binge drinking and drinking games — is being created by Linda Flanders of Taproot Inc., Bay City.
By: Ruth Nerhaugen, The Republican Eagle
A series of three films focusing on underage drinking — including binge drinking and drinking games — is being created by Linda Flanders of Taproot Inc., Bay City.
She received a $4,800 media arts grant from the Wisconsin State Arts Board to help finance a collaboration with Rusk County, Wis.
That rural, north-central Wisconsin county is ranked among the top three in Wisconsin with a serious underage drinking problem and unemployment, Flanders said.
Officials there launched a "Yes We Can" campaign (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=djXkHz0svuQ), including plans for a three-part video to educate the community.
"That's where I came in," Flanders said. She has undertaken similar projects locally, including a movie about methamphetamine use, "Crossing the Line," involving Red Wing. That project also involved focus groups, surveys, statements from youths and parents and the video that gave life to the information.
Rusk County may have been aware of that video, she said, or another she did on sexual assault. They asked her to focus on teen drinking this time.
"There is so much new information out about how alcohol affects the developing brain — including the teenage brain," Flanders said. "It changes everything."
Much focus has been placed on the effect on fetuses and children up to age 5. The11 to 14 years also are critical. And in teens — up until the early 20s — the portions of the brain that involve decision-making and planning are still developing, which means everything young people are involved in doing can make a huge positive or negative impact.
@Sub Heads:Binge drinking
@Normal1: The first video focused on preventing underage drinking. Flanders now is editing the second piece, which is about understanding the effects of binge drinking.
Young people drinking has been part of the culture for generations, she said. "But everything is so different today" because of binge-drinking parties where teens drink as much as they can as fast as they can. Birthday games include drinking the number of drinks matching your age all in a row, she added.
"It can cause alcohol poisoning," which may be fatal, Flanders said, adding that alcohol continues to absorb into the body after people stop imbibing, even after they pass out.
"Mostly kids have no idea about this. Parents have no idea about this," she said.
The next step in the project will be interviews with people who have been adversely affected by underage drinking, probably including parents of someone who lost a child in a drunken driving accident, a police officer who was at the scene of a fatal crash involving drinking, and a young person who has a problem or a parent with a drinking problem.
Flanders will ask them to describe their personal vision of a community that does not have that type of problem, and the kids will act out "This is what an ideal or perfect world could look like."
The grant she received went toward essential equipment for the project, including a movie camera, an Apple computer and studio software that meets movie industry standards. Rusk County provided matching funds.
@Sub Heads:Music video
@Normal1: Flanders wants to condense the third movie into a music video, and also plans to offer a weekend workshop to people who would like to make their own movies.
"The goal of the art grants is to stimulate collaboration and creativity, with the new direction of solving problems and economic growth," Flanders said.
"The creative process is so important," she stressed, because it educates people and engages the community to learn in a new way. "Let's use the arts for the greater good of society."
Flanders has also applied for a humanities grant involving development of curriculum at school and acting out local history, and she was one of three winners in a recent PBS Internet video contest that could lead to having her project shown as part of a televised NOVA science series focusing on "Becoming a True Human Being." Her Nova project is about using the Feldenkrais Method to alter compulsive patterns of human behavior.
"There are a lot of new grant possibilities out there for communities working with local artists and art programs who are willing to use the creative process to help solve local problems," Flanders said. "Some very exciting things are happening right now. We need to create new ideas."