Coalitions in Action – Taos Pueblo Awareness Coalition Team – “A Time for Memories, Not Mistakes”
“It’s About Time, a Time for Memories, Not Mistakes.” That was the slogan of the Taos Pueblo Awareness Coalition Team‘s (TPACT) prom campaign in Taos County, NM for the month of April. In an effort to discourage youth alcohol use at prom night, the coalition brainstormed ways of collaborating with local sectors to prevent underage drinking and share their slogan’s message.
“At the end of March, I contacted all the law enforcement agencies in Taos County; the NM State Police, Taos Pueblo Department of Public Safety, the Town of Taos Police Department, and the Taos County Sheriffs’ Office to agree to conduct saturation patrols in Taos for Taos High School and Questa High School’s prom nights,” explained Jordan Romero, TPACT Coordinator.
“At first, I didn’t know which would be better: establishing checkpoints or conducting saturation patrols. However, since we live in a rural community with an abundance of backroads, we asked the law enforcement agencies to conduct saturation patrols because, unlike checkpoints, saturation patrols look for impaired-driving behaviors, such as reckless and/or aggressive driving in multiple locations and areas.”
“Once we ensured the cooperation of our law enforcement agencies, we started spreading the word. I worked with our local newspaper, Taos News, to run an ad during the week before and week of prom. They also ran a digital ad that ran until April 30th (prom night).”
“We also worked with the principal and teachers at Taos High School. We handed out flyers during ticket sales, letting students know what saturation patrol meant and encouraged them to “Make Memories, Not Mistakes”’ by placing that message on the prom tickets. Additionally, we utilized School Reach, the automated phone system that calls parents to let them know about school closures or delays, to notify them of the upcoming saturation patrol.”
“At our Annual Easter Egg Hunt, we handed out over 200 flyers to the Taos Pueblo community, alerting them to the saturation patrols. In collaboration with Rocky Mountain Youth Corps Prevention Program, Vida del Norte, and Taos Alive, we shared over 24 targeted social media posts to parents, teens and the general public about topics such as the importance of having a conversation with your teens, the dangers of mixing alcohol and marijuana, that prom is fun in and of itself without drugs and alcohol, that it is illegal to provide alcohol to minors on prom night, and that it isn’t a rite of passage, etc.”
“Lastly, we worked together with Taos Pueblo Recovery Works Program to hold a sober dance party on that same night to follow our own advice and show that you don’t need to have drugs and alcohol at an event to have fun. They brought in food trucks, a DJ and provided mocktails – it turned out to be a really great time!”
Earlier this week, Jordan met with the NM State Police, the Town of Taos Police Department, and the Taos County Sheriff’s Office at a DWI meeting and received feedback on the effectiveness of the saturation patrols. “All reported that there were no DWI’s or any other alcohol-related citations or arrests on the night of April 30th. The Sherriff’s office noticed that the night seemed quiet on a whole for the whole town, and attributed it to the show of law enforcement for the saturation patrols and the prom campaign media that was shared. Cumulatively, after hearing their reports, I believe that this campaign on a whole was a success.”
“I think the greatest success was the collaboration that occurred with our local sectors. It really did show that when we work together, we can accomplish a lot. We worked with law enforcement, with other coalitions, with our education sectors, and it really did make a difference. Everybody brought a little bit of something to the table. My advice would be to not be afraid to ask or reach out to people in your community to collaborate. I was kind of surprised at how willing everybody was to help, but especially when it comes to our youth, I think people are definitely willing and happy to contribute however they can.”