Cops show kids drinking’s no yolk

Apparently, a chicken egg makes a good substitute for a human brain. At least when it comes to drugs and alcohol.

Eggs first stood in for a brain in dramatic fashion nearly two decades ago when one sizzled in a frying pan to represent “Your brain on drugs” for the Partnership for a Drug-free America’s jarring public service announcements.

And just last week, eggs were representing brains once again in Sunnyslope Elementary School, bathing in alcohol to show fifth graders the nasty things drinking can do to your thinking cells.

“What does the egg look like now?” Port Orchard Police Officer Stan James asked Storie Santschi’s class after the students cracked and plopped eggs in rubbing alcohol Friday, in what resembled a thoroughly unappetizing cooking lesson.

“It’s cloudy, and it stinks,” was the unanimous response, as James explained that the alcohol turned the egg white cloudy in much the same way that it clouds people’s judgement.

“It slows down the body and mind,” James said, so much so that “you can’t even walk straight.”

James also explained that alcohol affects everyone in different ways, so you can never be sure what will happen to you. What he said was certain, however, was that alcohol harms young people much more than adults.

As bad as that news was, it appeared one student had heard alcohol could do much worse.

“Does it make your brain disappear?” said 10-year-old Mary Israel.

“Well, not exactly,” answered Port Orchard Police Chief Al Townsend. “But it does kill brain cells. It can make you learn less, and remember less.”

Townsend and James’ presentation was part of the “Reach Out Now National Teach-In,” a pilot program taking the anti-drinking campaign prepared by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration(SAMHSA) into fifth-grade classrooms across the nation for Alcohol Awareness month.

According to Kitsap County’s Traffic Safety Task Force Coordinator Shirley Wise, Kitsap County was one of only three sites in the state chosen to present the program.

“We were also the only county that had each law enforcement agency participate,” Wise said, explaining that the other school districts were visited by either the Washington State Patrol, the Kitsap County Sheriff’s Department, or the Bremerton, Poulsbo and Bainbridge Island police departments because all the offices eagerly volunteered when she called them.

Wise said the presentations were targeting fifth-graders because research shows that is the time in many kids' lives when they are introduced to alcohol. This happens not only with their peers at school, she said, but often in their own home.

“One in four U.S. children lives with a parent who is an alcoholic or who abuses alcohol,” Wise said, quoting statistics from the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism.

According to SAMHSA, the “Reach Out Now” presentations should help students learn ways to avoid alcohol, and make them aware of some of the effects drinking has on the brain and body.

Since it is hard for many children to visualize how something could affect your brain, the SAMHSA presentation has students dip an egg in alcohol to give them an immediate visual aid.

And most of the students Friday did not like what they saw.

“Just talking about it makes me want to vomit,” said Tyler Boldrin, who, along with his two neighbors, loudly declared he did not want to drink.

When asked what might happen if they were to drink, his classmates revealed they did not need an egg to teach them about the dangers of drinking.

Kohlton Steinke said drinking would change your personality, while Megan Mollet said it would change your whole life.

“You wouldn’t turn into the person you wanted to be,” she said.

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