Teen queen warns about underage drinking

By Danza Johnson/NEMS Daily Journal

TUPELO – Kateland Kennedy has kicked off her underage drinking Sticker Shock Campaign and hopes she can influence her peers.
The reigning Miss Teen Lee County is putting anti-drinking stickers on alcohol containers at some local stores today to remind store clerks and teens about the dangers of underage drinking.
Even though the Mooreville Middle School student is only 12 years old, Kateland has a very grownup message for her friends.
“Drinking as a teenager can ruin your life,” she said. “It’s wrong for adults to give alcohol to teenagers so we decided to do the Sticker Shock Campaign to warn teens and remind store clerks that selling alcohol to a kid is wrong and against the law.”
Kateland and about 10 friends will put stickers that read: “It’s illegal to buy or provide alcohol to anyone under the age of 21,” on the containers of every alcohol beverage at the selected stores.
Region III Mental Health Center and the Lee County Sheriff’s Department have teamed up with Kennedy to get the word out. Sheriff Jim Johnson said it’s one thing to have him or other adults telling teens not to drink, but it doesn’t hold nearly the weight as hearing it come from one of their own.
“It was easy for us to get on board with Kateland because of the message she’s trying to get across,” said Johnson. “Teenagers influence one another whether it’s good or bad. In this case it’s a very good thing. We deal with so many teens who use alcohol and it affects them mentally and physically. Anything that will help to offset that we are all for.”
According to the Students Against Destructive Decisions, three out of four students have consumed alcohol by the end of high school.
Kateland hopes to become Miss Teen Outstanding Tupelo next fall, and her fight against underage drinking will be her platform.

Contact Danza Johnson at (662) 678-1583 or danza.johnson@djournal.com.