VISTA — Hundreds of teens gathered April 20 with loud music blaring, but not for the unofficial drug holiday known as 4/20. Instead they were attending the North Coastal Prevention Coalition’s 420 Remix event at Boomers! The coalition has been putting on this event every April 20 for the last six years to help promote drug abuse prevention in North County.
“We rented Boomers! out exclusively for 1,200 kids and 1,000 have shown up,” Leticia Robles, a spokeswoman for North Coastal Prevention Coalition said.
Eileen Turk of the Oceanside Community Safety Partnership described it as “mixing fun and music with education and information.”
A deejay provided a constant playlist for the teens as they had the run of the park. In between songs he called out raffle numbers to give away prizes like tickets to the local movie theater, skateboards, Coldstone Creamery and $20 gift certificates to Starbucks and RXYM.
While the teens raced go-karts and played mini-golf and arcade games, General Manager Mark Williams worked with North Coastal Prevention Coalition to make the event go as smoothly as possible. “It’s awesome to have this here,” Williams said. “It’s right up our alley. When they approached us we were more than happy to help out. It’s right in line with what our values are — family and fun in a safe environment. A lot of us are parents here, so it’s great to have and provide a positive distraction for kids.”
Adults weren’t the only ones helping with the day’s festivities. Kinney Hines is a member of the youth movement associated with North Coastal Prevention Coalition. “I’m a co-chair with Jessica Mercado,” Kinney said. “I’m just trying to get the message of alcohol and drug abuse prevention out to people my age.”
The teens help spread their message in other ways as well. “We help with DUI checkpoints,” Kinney said. “When I went out to them, I was assigned to an officer. When they’d do a sobriety check on someone I’d give them a thank you card for driving safely if they were clean.”
Another method of helping out is a tactic the teens call “sticker shock.”
“We go outside of grocery and liquor stores in the area and ask adults if they’ll buy us alcohol,” Kinney said. “If they say no, we give them a sticker saying congratulations basically, about doing the right thing. If they say yes we give them a card saying what they did was illegal, and that they shouldn’t contribute to a serious problem amongst teens.”
The efforts to inform teens about the dangers of drug abuse were
in-depth and pervasive at the 420 Remix event, which was made possible by sponsors like Chili’s, Chick-fil-A, Surfride and RXYM fashion, but even the organizers admitted some trouble with achieving their goal.
“The biggest obstacle in terms of drug abuse prevention is getting the message out in a effective way,” Robles said. “Staying in tune with the trends and the language is a challenge, so we’re trying to innovate. That’s why Kinney designs our fliers. We want to stay in touch with the youth as much as possible. That’s why we’re at Boomers! — a place that’s entertaining and attractive, rather than on a school campus or in the community.”
Alex Campos of Madison Middle School said that the problem with drug abuse prevention education is that schools don’t have the money to educate students right now.
“This event keeps kids out of trouble and from doing drugs,” Juan Fuentes of Washington Middle School said. “It feels better to have supervisors around; to not feel endangered.”
Porsche Williamson, also of Washington Middle School, echoed a similar outlook. “It’s a great resource to prevent violence and drugs. To have elders here with students — I think it’s fantastic not to have to worry about any dangers.”