Mara Bujnowski wobbled at first as she tried to walk a straight line while wearing specially-made goggles that distorted her view and threw off her orientation. Veronica Muncy of Family Service and Mental Health Center of Oak Park-River Forest helped Bujnowski keep her balance. Muncy, a prevention teen leader at the center, held Bujnowski’s arm as she walked.

The goggles she wore are used by Family Services to show kids what it feels like when you try to walk while drunk, even if it’s at the legal limit in Illinois-.08-which the goggles are designed to simulate.

“It distorts you,” said Bujnowski. “I couldn’t match my feet. All I was trying to do was put one foot in front of the other. It throws you off.”

Family Services was among several local agencies participating in a teen alcohol summit Monday evening, hosted by Oak Park and River Forest High School, 201 N. Scoville.

Bujnowski, an OPRF parent, attended the summit, which included an assembly featuring presentations by alcohol-prevention experts, and vender booths set up in the school’s student center.

Anita Richardson, an administrative law judge for Evanston, Brookfield and Oak Park was among the experts talking to parents, specifically about keeping kids from drinking and driving.

It’s not a crime, she explained, for an adult, or even a parent, to offer a child alcohol-adding that it was not a good idea-but it is a crime to drive drunk, said Richardson, who described the penalties a person faces if they’re caught drinking while driving, or if they’re involved in an accident.

“It is a crime to drive while you’re drinking. You will commit other crimes and you will create tragic incidents,” she said.

Jacob Nelson, manager of health information services for the Oak Park Department of Public Heath, shared results from a 2006 Illinois Youth Survey on Alcohol and Drug Use, reported by OPRF sophomores and seniors. According to that survey, OPRF had the highest average rate of alcohol use of any high school-not just in the state, but in the nation. Nelson explained that not every school in the state participated in the survey, so there may other schools with a higher rate not identified in the survey.

According to the ’06 results, 67 percent of OPRF seniors reported alcohol use within the last 30 days, compared to an average of 55 percent in suburban Cook County and 53 percent for the state of Illinois.

What do OPRF students say?

OPRF High School took part in a 2006 Illinois Youth Survey on Alcohol and Drug Use. According to the 2006 survey results for the OPRF sophomores and seniors who participated:

Sophomores

  • 41 percent admitted to using alcohol in the last 30 days
  • 23 percent admitted binge drinking
  • 7 percent reported driving under the influence during the past year

Seniors

  • 67 percent admitted to using alcohol in the last 30 days
  • 42 percent admitted binge drinking
  • 28 percent reported driving under the influence during the past year

Results provided by OPRF

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