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Town Hall to Prevent Underage Drinking

Hosted by: Ware Children's Initiative

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How does alcohol and other drug 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.

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What 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
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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.

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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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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.
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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.
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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.

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