LAUREN Jackson never let her elite sportswoman status stop her from having fun and she admits she still likes to indulge in a glass of wine or two with friends.
But, despite the nation’s compulsion towards binge-drinking, the basketball star said “alcohol doesn’t have to be anyone’s culture”.
Jackson addressed a teen drinking forum for parents and children in Myrtleford last night, and said sport in regional communities could help take the focus off alcohol.
“There’s a lot of other things you can do for fun, not necessarily drinking,” she said.
“Get kids into sport early, and get involved in other things they like.”
The spokesperson for Recording Artists, Actors & Athletes Against Drink-Driving now firmly considers herself a role model but at the same time she’s careful not to paint herself as an “angel”.
She said sometimes young people needed to learn their own lessons before they grew up a little.
“I was young once and when you’re in younger years it’s just a culture and whether you’re an athlete or not, you’re going to go out and have a drink,” Jackson said.
“It’s a part of being young and enjoying your youth but there is a line that needs to be drawn.”
The four-time Olympian has seen first-hand the horrific consequences of what happens when that line is crossed.
“A couple of my friends killed their best friends drink-driving and I think a few of them are still in jail,” she said.
The 31-year-old said it was important for drinkers to ensure they were safe, and they were around people who could help them.
Last night the Albury superstar was joined on a Q&A-style panel with Wangaratta police inspector David Ryan, health and drug workers, and Bruce Clark, whose son died of an alcohol overdose in 1999.
They tackled some hard questions, including why young people drink — peer pressure or a culture of drinking?