By Ling-Mei Wong
“Hey, I’m underage. Can you buy me a drink?”
Standing just outside Sagarino’s liquor store on South Street, Meiling Xu of Boston Latin School looked expectantly at a man passing by, waiting for his response. He shook his head and kept walking.
Xu was underage, but she was not looking for alcohol. Instead, she, along with fellow classmates Ado Jean-Noel and Maddie Montgomery, were part of an underage drinking awareness event run by the Allston-Brighton Substance Abuse Task Force (ABSATF) in conjunction with Boston Asian Youth Essential Services.
On Nov. 21, Xu, Jean-Noel and Montgomery participated in a “Shoulder Tap” activity. After soliciting passersby for alcohol, the students gave adults who refused to buy them a drink a business card that said they had done the right thing and listed penalties for buying alcohol for minors. Those who did offer to buy alcohol for the minors were given a “thumbs down” card which also listed the penalties of such actions.
The teens were not alone. Standing at a safe distance was Boston Police Officer Ted Boyle of District A-1, along with task force project assistant Lauren Antonelli. As a further precaution, the Latin School students carried out their volunteer service in Chinatown to avoid recognition in Brighton.
While underage drinking is not a major problem in Chinatown, Shoulder Tap and other activities serve to increase awareness among youth.
“They learn at their centers about driving drunk, as some people can handle it and others can’t,” Boyle said. “We speak on laws and what the consequences of alcohol are, such as legal fees, loss of license and property damage. Education is a big part of this.”
In addition to the Shoulder Tap activity, ABSATF and Boston Asian YES offer other ways for youth to get involved. Though too young to actively participate in Shoulder Tap, Josiah Quincy Upper School freshman and Boston Asian YES member Kenny Mei has helped at “Sticker Shock” events, placing labels on cases of beer to warn adults not to buy alcohol for minors.
“People can see the need,” Mei said.
This post is also available in: Chinese