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Town Hall to Prevent Underage Drinking
Ware Children's Initiative
How does underage drinking and substance misuse affect your community?
Fortunately, Ware County has not experienced a high rate of underage drinking. Within the past 3 years, our county’s underage drinking rate dropped from 13 percent to 10 percent (measured by 30-day use pattern). However, Ware County’s predominant age of first-time alcohol use has consistently been age 8 or younger (the scale did not measure younger than 8 years old). In 2019, we saw some positive change as the predominant age of first-time use increased to 13 years old. We attribute this milestone to our SAFE HOMES campaign, a campaign that creates a network of parents and community members working together to ensure a safe, healthy, drug-free environment for all youth.
How did a Communities Talk event help you address those issues?
- Engagement with local government leaders and business owners to consider policy changes such as social hosting laws or restaurant worker trainings
- Educated youth and parents
- Built community cohesiveness and support for our efforts
- Raised awareness of substance abuse and/or underage drinking issues in our community
- Gave parents an easy way to promote prevention.
Which Communities Talk resources (or other SAMHSA resources) were most helpful for your activity?
- Communities Talk planning guides
- Communities Talk toolkits
- Communities Talk gave us multiple paths to engage our key stakeholders.
How did your event make an impact on underage drinking in your community?
We were able to invite respected community leaders to our meeting, including the local police chief, a moderator with over 20 years of law enforcement training, a pediatrician, and local youth. Having our community leaders participate allowed key community stakeholders to listen attentively and understand the importance of prevention. Ware County is now slowly shifting from a permissive culture to one of prevention.
What other challenge(s) did you face in planning your activity this year?
- Needed additional resources to conduct activity
- Lack of interest from the community
- Particularly severe or resistant substance use issues in our community
- Lack of awareness of our event or organization
How did you overcome these challenges?
Timing was our biggest issue. Unfortunately, we cannot accommodate everyone’s schedule, but we were able to record a 2019 UAD Town Hall Meeting video to share with the community in case they missed our event.
What are your next steps?
- Host follow-up meetings or activities
- Create new action groups to tackle specific issues raised during our Communities Talk activity
- Expand our coalition with new partnerships in the community
- Support new prevention policies, legislation, or social ordinances
- Create a public education campaign to raise awareness and/or change behaviors around underage drinking (i.e., create PSAs and other promotional materials)
- Start Teaching Early Prevention - STEP Up - Campaign
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