Teenagers stand in a tight circle, pouring beer down the neck of a beer bong amid chants of “Drink, drink, drink!”
“Look what I found in the medicine cabinet!,” a teenager proclaims, holding up bottles of prescription pills.
“Somebody’s not breathing over here!,” someone shouts from another room.
Sounds like a typical teen party turned sour. But instead of taking place on a Saturday night, it’s broad daylight at one of CLARE Foundation’s Outpatient facilities.
On Saturday, May 6, CLARE hosted the third annual #ItsTooEasy Reality Party in conjunction with several partner organizations, including: Straight Up Reality Improv, the City of Santa Monica, Santa Monica-Malibu Unified School District (SMMUSD), the Institute for Public Strategies, the Santa Monica Police Department (SMPD), and the Westside Impact Project.
The Reality Party aimed to ignite conversation surrounding sensitive topics like teen drinking, substance use, and sexual assault among parents of teenagers and members of the community. Teen actors, along with coaches from Straight Up Reality Improv, acted out poignant scenes depicting the dangers of the all-too-pervasive drug and alcohol use at high school parties.
According to CLARE Foundation’s Prevention Manager Shawn Davis, “The Reality Party is a powerful experience because it creates an opportunity for parents, school administrators and community leaders to acknowledge the realities of underage substance use, and find ways to address the problem together.”
Following the Reality Party, community partners including Ana Jara from SMPD’s Youth Diversion Program, Tara Brown, Director of Student Services for SMMUSD, and Michelle Bee, CLARE’s Director of Outpatient services held a panel to discuss teen party and hookup culture with parents.
Exposure through educational events like this Reality Party allows parents and teachers to initiate frank conversations with their children and students about the risks of drug and alcohol abuse. Through open communication and increased awareness, teens will be armed with the tools they need to stand up to underage drinking and illicit drug use.