Rapids Rising Celebrates 2019 Student Survey Results

Most Grand Rapids Teens are Making Healthy and Safe Choices

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Most Grand Rapids students in grades 7-12 are making good decisions when it comes to alcohol, tobacco, and other drugs.* The results of the 2019 Positive Community Norms Grand Rapids Student Survey continue to show that most Grand Rapids students don’t drink alcohol in a typical month.

The Positive Community Norms (PCN) Survey was administered in 2017 and again in February 2019 as a part of a Planning & Implementation (P&I) grant to reduce and delay underage alcohol use. The grant funds the work of the Rapids Rising Student Group and the Grand Rapids in Prevention (GRIP) Community Coalition.

“These groups work together to focus on the positive and correct the misperception that most teens are drinking,” said P&I Grant Coordinator Nick Adams.

“The truth is, most young people are making good choices,” said Angela Oelke, GRIP Co-Chair and ISD 318 School Social Worker. “We need to remind kids of that, while at the same time talking to them about the risks associated with underage alcohol and drug use.”

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*2019 PCN student survey, n=1,287 7-12 grade Grand Rapids students. Funded by MN DHS, BHD.

Grand Rapids in Prevention Annual Report Shows Strong Efforts in Community

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Grand Rapids in Prevention (GRIP) is a coalition of community members striving to improve our area by empowering kids to make positive choices regarding substance use. Working behind the scenes to support the Rapids Rising student group, the coalition promotes and models healthy choices in our community through positive advocacy, education, and empowerment.

But what does that mean? We know, through surveys administered to 7th through 12th graders in Grand Rapids, that most students have healthy attitudes and behaviors about not using alcohol at their age. We also know that most teens and adults in our community believe that underage drinking is much more prevalent than it actually is. By working to close that perception gap, we can reduce and delay underage drinking in Grand Rapids. Studies show that kids who correctly perceive that most students don’t drink alcohol monthly or more often, are 11 times less likely to drink themselves.*

So, what is GRIP doing to change those perceptions? In the past year, prior to events often associated with alcohol consumption, the coalition has worked to message students and parents through a sticker shock campaign at local liquor stores; media campaigns that include radio ads, social media posts, and posters and billboards featuring positive normative data; homecoming tailgates; pep-fests; and the post-prom program.

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*Source: 2017 PCN student survey, n=1205, 7-12 grade Grand Rapids students. Funded by MN DHS, Behavioral Health Division.


Most parents, 86 percent, strongly agree that drinking alcohol is never an appropriate activity for youth to engage in, according to a recently released parent survey conducted by the Rapids Rising Youth Group and the Grand Rapids in Prevention (GRIP) Coalition.

Last spring, parents of students in grades seven through 12 were asked how they feel about underage alcohol, tobacco, and other drug use in the community. The results, said Nick Adams, P&I Grant Coordinator, “were striking.”

According to survey results, most parents have healthy, protective beliefs about alcohol, tobacco, and other drugs. However, many parents underestimate the protective beliefs of other parents regarding that use. Many parents also underestimate the amount of youth who are choosing not to use alcohol, tobacco and marijuana.

“Though most parents strongly agree that drinking alcohol is never a good thing for their child to do, 79 percent of parents surveyed don’t believe that other parents feel the same,” said Adams.

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A little kindness goes a long way

Middle school members of Rapids Rising shared messages of friendship and kindness with area seniors at Grand Village, Majestic Pines and Diamond Willow in celebration of Valentine’s Day this year. “We spend a lot of time talking about the positive things young people can do in our community,” said Nick Adams, P&I Grant Coordinator for the Rapids Rising program. According to Adams, seventh and eighth grade members of the Rapids Rising student group wanted to “get out and exercise this core belief on Valentine’s Day.” 

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Rapids Rising Continues to See Increasing Community and Student Involvement

Rapids Rising, a local initiative which utilizes positive messaging as well as student and community involvement to encourage Grand Rapids youth to make positive choices regarding alcohol use, has continued to boast strong community and student involvement, according to Grant Coordinator Nick Adams during a report to the Independent School District (ISD) 318 school board on Monday, Jan. 22.

The Rapids Rising program, now in its second of five years, was made possible due to funds from a $1 million grant provided by the Minnesota Department of Human Services, Alcohol and Drug Abuse Division.

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79 Percent of GRHS Students Think Their Peers Drink Regularly

Rapids Rising is focused on potential, seeks to spread positive messaging. 

Since its founding last year, Rapids Rising, a local initiative which utilizes positive messaging as well as student and community involvement to encourage Grand Rapids youth to make positive choices regarding alcohol use, has continued to boast “strong numbers” according to Grant Coordinator Nick Adams.

After completing a process of student-based research, with data from a student survey completed earlier this year, the program, alongside its nearly 500 active members and public supporters (both community and student), is ready to share its findings with the community.

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After receiving a five year, $1 million grant, Independent School District (ISD) 318 seeks to reduce and delay underage alcohol use throughout the community. During Monday’s school board meeting, the ISD 318 board was updated on the status of a five year Planning and Implementation (P&I) grant, awarded by the Minnesota Department of Human Services, Alcohol and Drug Abuse Division.

Grand Rapids was one of nine other communities in the state to be awarded this project. Neighboring Deer River was a past recipient of such funds, and saw tremendous success, according to P&I Grant Coordinator, Nick Adams, having cut their underage alcohol use in half as a result.

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When the price tag is $1 million, the commodity must be big - or, at least, important. That is what a movement organized by a coalition dubbed Grand Rapids In Prevention (or GRIP) is hoping for their results after receiving a grant for $1 million. Their objective: To reduce underage drinking in our community. And they have five years to do it.

This week, the Itasca County Board of Commissioners heard a report from Nick Adams who is coordinating the planning and implementation of the Rapids Rising initiative. Adams gave an update on the first few months of the effort.

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ISD 318 has been awarded a grant for $1,058,101 to work on curbing underage drinking. The Minnesota Department of Human Services (DHS) Planning and Implementation (P&I) Grant is one of only ten awarded each year throughout the the state of Minnesota and focuses on lowering the instances of underage alcohol consumption and heightening the awareness of adults in the community to help support youths in making positive life choices. 

“Our goal is to create a culture that does not support, encourage, or accept substance use by our young people,” explained ISD 318 Assistant Superintendent
Rochelle VanDenHeuvel in a press release.

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