We work with and foster collaboration among persona and organizations from almost all community sectors – including business, education, media, youth, parents and faith-based, encompassing all demographics and operating across the socio-economic spectrum – to address ATOD use - with particular attention to alcohol and tobacco – in Genesee County, especially among youth. Through regular meetings and ongoing communication, we organize campaigns, disseminate information, and coordinate events for families and people of all ages. Our project was constructed with short-term, intermediate and long-term goals under the umbrella of fostering community norms that discourage ATOD use, limiting ATOD availability, and developing legislation that reinforces desired norms. Our research has shown a correlation between our efforts and a significant decrease in ATOD use among youth, as well as an increase in the age of onset of ATOD use, the mitigation of risk factors, and an increase in protective factors.
Assess: Initially, we assessed our community's needs using the Communities That Care (CTC) Model. We conducted a needs assessment first, followed by a resource assessment identifying programs in agencies that deal with the primary risk factors identified in our needs assessment. We divided the information we collected into three categories: archival data, which included the number of retailers selling alcohol, the number of adults in alcohol and/or drug treatment programs, and DWI arrests for youth ages 16-20; survey data, which was collected from the CTC Youth Survey administered to Genesee County 6th-11th-graders - which we replaced with the Prevention Needs Assessment (PNA) Survey in October 2006 (the Coalition paid to have older data converted so that trends could continue to be analyzed) - and supplemental data, which included youth focus group results and environmental scans of parks and convenience stores.
Plan: Our mission is to decrease ATOD use - especially alcohol and tobacco use, which our survey data indicated were particularly significant - among 6th-12th-graders. We aim to reduce risk factors that lead to and increase protective factors that steer youths away from ATOD use. We have orchestrated a wide and changing variety of activities/programs, including:
• Compliance Checks, during which youth, under law enforcement supervision, visit local retail establishments and attempt to purchase alcohol.
• Tipline, a service to which concerned neighbors can make anonymous phone calls when
they suspect underage drinking parties to be in progress. This has helped law enforcement officials to disperse many such parties in the community.
• Responsible Server Trainings, offered to employees who sell alcohol to minors during Compliance Checks and to anyone else owners wish to send. Attendees learn about the consequences of selling alcohol to minors for everyone involved.
Act: In addition to implementing PNA surveys, we have utilized many programs involving all community sectors and citizens of all ages. Project Sticker Shock has proven to be one of our most successful programs, involving area teens who visit various retail establishments to place stickers, which clarify the legal consequences of selling alcohol to minors, on alcoholic beverages. We have also successfully coordinated annual youth- and family-oriented events - such as National Night Out in the summer, Night at the Ballpark (partnering with our local Class A professional baseball team), a family pizza night, a Halloween party and Red Ribbon Week activities - that offer fun alternatives to ATOD use and encourage bonding among families and the community as a whole. Additionally, we have mobilized the community through media campaigns and guest speakers such as Enrique Camarena, Jr. (son of the DEA agent in honor of whom Red Ribbon Week was started).
Evaluate: We collaborate with Catalyst Research and, in particular, Evaluation Consultant Dr. Daniel Webb, to evaluate our data in a targeted and efficient manner. We use such tools as the Microsoft Office Suite, SPSS, NVivo, and the COMET system to clean, analyze, and report. We also regularly measure sustainability using a Coalition Self-Reflector Survey and comparisons against our approved sustainability plan. All of our evaluators are able to tailor the data for best use by the Coalition for the purpose of improvement, growth, and sustainability. The data shows that our activities have contributed to marked decrease in ATOD use among youth in grades 6-12, as cited in response to question #4. Risk and protective factors have also been favorably affected. From 2002-2008, for instance, the protective factor "Rewards for ProSocial Involvement" increased from 63% to 72%, and the risk factor "Early Initiation of Drug Use" went from 42% to 33%.
Sustain: One measure we are taking to ensure Coalition sustainability is the active involvement of our youth in planning and implementation through SUPA - Students United for Positive Action. Because the youth are the future of community and Coalition sustainability, we take the need to work with them very seriously. Secondly, local authorities will be taking over the Compliance Checks and making them part of their daily routine once our funding expires. They have implemented them enthusiastically and gone above and beyond what we asked of them. Thirdly, our 500 Strong campaign fosters connections among local businesses and between business and the community, and is committed to raising money for DFC-sponsored, family-friendly events/activities. Since 2007, we have raised a total of $8,280 from 71 local businesses and individuals. Finally, the DFC has a Coalition Building/Sustainability Committee committed to continually recruiting additional Coalition members, as well as youth volunteers and youth committee members.
30-day tobacco use decreased dramatically from 2000-2008 thank, in part, to our efforts. It went from 25.7% to 12.5% among 9th-graders, 25.2% to 10.4% among 10th-graders, and 35% to 13.5% among 11th-graders. Currently, the overall rate of tobacco use in Genesee County is 11%. This is the lowest percentage statewide.
Additionally, past 30-day alcohol use went from 40.9% to 30.6% among 10th-graders and 51.9% to 36.5% among 11th-graders from 2002-2008.
For our work, we have gained national recognition from the Community Anti-Drug Coalition of America (CADCA) and the National Association of State Alcohol/Drug Abuse Directors (NASADAD). We were awarded CADCA’s 2006 Got Outcomes! Award in the category of “Coalition as a Whole,” which was presented to us at their Annual Forum in Washington D.C. In September 2007, we won a NASADAD National Exemplary Award. This was presented at the National Prevention Network’s annual Research Conference in Portland, Oregon.