Solana Beach youth hold town hall forum on underage drinking

By Kristina Houck

To improve the quality of life for residents of all ages in Solana Beach’s Eden Gardens community, local teens held a town hall forum on underage drinking April 30 at North Coast Fellowship.

Members of La Colonia Changers, a group of teens trying to make positive changes in Eden Gardens, discussed why underage drinking is a problem, how it impacts the community and what members of the public can do about it.

“We wanted to put on this event to create awareness about underage drinking,” said Jorge Linares, a member of La Colonia Changers and a freshman at Torrey Pines High School. “We have seen minors drinking in the community. We want that to change.”

After a brief introduction by the youth group, the two-hour event kicked off with a Spanish language video about underage drinking.

Following the video, Nancy Logan of the San Dieguito Alliance for Drug Free Youth talked about the dangers of driving and drinking. A 19-year-old drunk driver hit and killed her husband. At 27 years old, she became a single mother to a 1-year-old.

Deputy Sheriff Henry Tirado also spoke about the law and local ordinances.

“They’ve worked really hard,” said Sal Garcia, Friday Night Live program coordinator. “This has been all their ideas; we’ve just been helping make sure it happens.”

A program of the San Diego County Office of Education, Friday Night Live works with youth to promote positive youth leadership opportunities free of alcohol, tobacco, drugs and violence.

Friday Night Live, San Dieguito Alliance and La Colonia de Eden Gardens Foundation sponsors La Colonia Changers, the local chapter of Friday Night Live.

After local teens attended a foundation-sponsored youth leadership camp in the summer of 2013, they returned home motivated to make a difference in the community. That’s when La Colonia Changers was formed.

“Our group is called La Colonia Changers and we are here to help change the community. We want to enforce the laws that are being broken,” said Brenda Mejia-Gonzalez, a member of La Colonia Changers and a junior at Torrey Pines High School. “Your voice is very powerful, so you can make a difference.”

In addition to the forum, members of the group have been working on a project called Photo Voice, which was on display at the event. They have been taking pictures of positive and negative things around the community and documenting their thoughts about the images and how they impact Eden Gardens.

Photos include pictures of abandoned houses, graffiti, people drinking or smoking, as well as the local branch of the Boys & Girls Clubs of San Dieguito and the community garden at La Colonia Park. The group plans to present its project to the City Council.

“We want to improve our community,” said Edgar Vergara, a founding member of La Colonia Changers and a sophomore at Torrey Pines High School. “We want people to feel safe and proud.”

For more information about Friday Night Live, visit


For more information about the San Dieguito Alliance, visit


For more information about La Colonia de Eden Gardens Foundation, visit