By Jenny Stolka

“Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful dedicated citizens can change the world. Indeed, it’s the only thing that ever has.” – Margaret Mead

A community’s ideas, tasks and involvement can either make or break the success of the mission at hand.  The Delaware County Drug Abuse Coalition (DDAC) is tackling just that with strategies spearheaded by a small group of residents, professionals, and parents. Their mindset: to truly make a change in the culture and the lives of our youth in Delaware County.

In July 2011, Delaware County received the Strategic Prevention Framework State Incentive Grant that aims to reduce underage drinking and adult binge drinking.  This project focuses on strategies that have been proven to make changes on the current environment and culture surrounding these issues.

The Strategies

  • Compliance Checks and Cops in Shops | law enforcement works at keeping alcohol out of the hands of our youth and those adults who purchase it for them.
  • Underage and adult binge drinking media campaigns | community education increases awareness and knowledge around the issues. The two campaigns: Stay Classy and What Do You Throw Away.
  • Alcohol Use Restrictions in Public Places | communities reviews or adopts policies that reduce access and availability of alcohol in public settings.

It is the combination of these approaches impact and make positive change for a healthy community.

The Local Effort

DDAC is working with convenience store retailers to implement Cops in Shops. Local law enforcement works beside store clerks and monitors parking lots at these establishments. Together they apprehend minors attempting to buy alcohol and/or the adults who purchase alcohol with plans to hand it off to the minors.

In an effort to show theses retailers that they have the support of the community, DDAC is launching an awareness campaign.  This campaign will include giving out cards, with this community message of support on them, to clerks during customer purchases. Coalition members will be distributing these cards to friends and family to pass on throughout Delaware County in an effort to reach all convenience stores.

Community Support Cards

The goal is to show the establishment that we, as parents, community members and professionals, appreciate all their time and efforts in reducing underage drinking in Delaware County.

For Our Children

When it comes to our children, we all want what is best for them.  We want to protect them from harm, we want them to stay healthy, and we want them to grow up to be successful members in our community. It truly takes all of us to make that happen. 

Hillary Rodham Clinton says it best, “Children are not rugged individualists. They depend on the adults they know and on thousands more who make decisions every day that affect their well-being. All of us, whether we acknowledge it or not, are responsible for deciding whether our children are raised in a nation that doesn’t just espouse family values but values families & children.”

Making changes for the better of a community may look different from what we know or have believed in the past, but change still needs to be made.  Reducing underage drinking is no exception to this rule.

By coming together and working through strategies like Cops in Shops, Alcohol Use Restrictions in Public Places, or building awareness through underage and adult binge drinking media campaigns, we will start to see a change in our culture in Delaware County.

We will start to see how a county came together and truly impacted the lives of our children.  Believe in the power of community!

 

For more information on how you can get support cards to hand to your retailers or how you can get involved with the Delaware County Drug Abuse Coalition (DDAC) contact Jen Stolka, Certified Prevention Specialist jstolka@helpingservices.org or 563/379-0531.

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