More to life than just booze

BINGE drinking is a national problem, but a local solution will soon be hitting the streets to show young people on the Coffs Coast that there's more to life than just booze.

Nambucca Valley Youth Centre's new initiative, the Mid North Coast Street Team, which aims to reduce risky alcohol use in young people, has secured $250,000 in government funding to get the program up and running.

The funding comes not a moment too soon, with figures from a NSW Health survey showing 32 per cent of 16- 24-year-olds on the North Coast have 'high risk behaviour' when it comes to alcohol - almost double the State average of 19 per cent.

That's where the Mid North Coast Street Team comes in, according to Youth Centre chairperson, Chris Hewgill.

“The Street Team project will assist young people to develop some really valuable skills for their future and at the same time work towards addressing the chronic issue of binge drinking in our area,” Mr Hewgill said.

From February 2009, Coffs Coast young people will have the opportunity to learn new skills in screen industries, advertising and event management, creating workshops for parents, developing 'party safe' checklists, and providing information to health professionals about working with young people.

The Street Team will cover Coffs Harbour, Bellingen and Nambucca, and work from the hubs of Headspace facilities.

Only 19 grassroots programs have been funded by the $3.6 million Federal program, and Minister for Health and Ageing, Nicola Roxon, said the successful projects are a community based response to combating excess alcohol consumption.

“It is important to empower local communities to deliver local solutions to local problems,” she said.

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