UNA junior creates alcohol awareness service project

Think Before You Drink is service project started by a UNA junior to create awareness of alcoholism and alcohol related crime and death.

Brooke Edwards, a Cullman native, created this project to educate the public on the dangers of alcoholism, underage drinking and drunk driving.

“My platform has a simple motto: everyone has the right to safety,” Edwards said. “Drinking and driving has become an epidemic that takes the lives of millions of Americans every year. In fact, almost half of all drivers who were killed in crashes tested positive for drugs or alcohol.”

Edwards added that prevention of underage drinking is a necessary step toward reducing the risk of alcoholism. Edwards founded a mentorship program at Cullman High School that partners a Cullman Middle School mentee with a high school mentor to encourage healthy friendships.

Edwards created The Life Saver Pledge. This is a pledge where people commit to do their part in preventing drinking and driving and observing healthy drinking habits.

“Alcoholism can happen to anyone, however you are much more likely to develop an alcohol problem if you begin consuming alcohol at a young age,” Edwards said. “With the opiate crisis being covered so heavily in the news, the conversation about addiction has been brought to the forefront and education is needed to aid in the prevention of addiction.”

Edwards incorporates social media to promote her platform and increase awareness for programs like Uber and Lyft so that people have access to a safe ride home.

According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, 37,133 people died in traffic crashes in 2017 in the United States. This includes an estimated 10,874 people who were killed in drunk driving crashes involving a driver with an illegal blood alcohol concentration, which is .08 or greater.

An estimated 88,000 people die from alcohol-related causes annually, making alcohol the third leading preventable cause of death in the United States, according to the National Institute of Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism. The first is tobacco, and the second is poor diet and physical inactivity.

“If there was one message that I could tell all college students, it would be this: be smart and be safe,” Edwards said. “Always arrange to have a safe ride home, always pour your own drinks, always check up on your friends, always ignore peer pressure and always know when to stop.”

Edwards was recently selected as Risk Management for Eta Rho chapter of Zeta Tau Alpha sorority.

“This position gives me the opportunity to provide a safe environment for all of my sorority sisters to thrive and grow into being their best selves,” Edwards said.

Edwards participates and incorporates her service project in the Miss America Organization through the Miss Alabama Scholarship Pageant.

The Miss America Organization promotes the education of women through scholarship awards and service. The Miss America Organization is one of the nation’s largest providers of scholarship assistance to young women, according to missamerica.org.

Edwards received the title of Miss Tennessee Valley 2019 in June and will compete at Miss Alabama in June 2019.

“The Miss America Organization allows young women to cultivate their public speaking skills, talents, fundraising abilities, network of connections and a cause that they are passionate about,” Edwards said. “I am thankful for the Miss America Organization for opening doors that never would have been opened otherwise and for shaping me into the woman I am today.”

The Miss America Organization promotes style, scholarship, success and service in women. Women ages 17-25 are eligible to compete in preliminary pageants to secure a spot in the state level pageant.

Winners of preliminary pageants then compete at the state level and winners of the state level compete at the national level in Miss America.