Students look into commercial appeal

by Chelle Delaney: Quay County Sun

“I’ll never watch commercials the same way again,” said Beverly Lansdell, 14.

“I wasn’t bored during the whole day,” said Caitlin Deitz, 16
“It was cool,” said Jennifer Osborne, 14.

That was the response of several San Jon teens who attended a media literacy program and ad campaign workshop on Thursday in Tucumcari.

About 35 teens from Quay, Harding and Union counties learned how to critically look at commercials, especially those promoting beer, and decode them for their particular appeal to different age groups from presenter Andrea I. Quijada, director of educational programs, New Mexico Media Literacy Project.

The project’s mission is to cultivate critical thinking and activism in media culture to build healthy and just communities, Quijada said.

The kids can be really creative and it was a teen and young adult group that thought up and developed the “truth” counter-advertising about smoking, “Think: Don’t Smoke.”

On the agenda now for Quay County teens is the opportunity to create their own counter-advertising program to offset the affects of alcohol consumption and alcohol-related problems promoted by alcohol advertising.

“We’re calling our group Reality,” said Robbie Garcia, 14, of San Jon. One of the ideas being kicked around is a billboard that depicts an auto accident with EMS vehicles on the scene and on the ground is several containers of alcoholic beverages, Garcia said.

The teens agreed that they were not going say, “You shouldn’t do this,” because that’s a turn-off, he said.
Instead, the picture of the accident scene shows that, “If you do this, this is what will happen,” he said.

Funds for the underage-drinking prevention ad program, which has a budget of $4,049, are part of a $40,000 grant from the state’s Children Youth and Family Department that was awarded to the Quay County Maternal Child and Community Health Council (MCCH) and the Quay County DWI program. The grant covers law enforcement, in-school elementary prevention programs and the work of the MCCH’s substance abuse committee, said Alida Brown, MCCH coordinator.

Brown said the committee will be contacting all the schools in Quay County, outlining what the core student group has accomplished and how they can participate.

The teens also developed something that could be on the internet, scripts for radio and print ads during their one-day workshop, Quijada said.

Most often teens only get to work up a mock ad campaign because there are no funds to put a program together from start to finish, Quijada said.
“I feel like what’s happening in Quay County is unique and important,” Quijada said.