Coalitions in Action: New York Coalition Honored for their Focus on Youth Alcohol Use

The Healthy Communities that Care Coalition of Livingston County, NY, was recently named a “Coalition of Excellence” by CADCA. The coalition received the Coalition in Focus award for their success in addressing youth alcohol use at CADCA’s National Leadership Forum last month. Project Director Rachel Pena and Prevention Specialist Robert Levy accepted the award on stage.

The GOT OUTCOMES! award program gives national recognition to exemplary coalitions that have clearly documented their impact on population-level substance abuse outcomes. The coalition completed a rigorous two-phase application process that began last June and required them to share how they successfully engaged coalition and community members to develop and carry out a comprehensive plan to address youth substance use. Selections were based on the coalition’s ability to create changes in programs, policies and practices based on local data. The HCTC was one of only two coalitions chosen by a panel of substance abuse prevention experts.

“We congratulate the Healthy Communities that Care Coalition of Livingston County on their accomplishments and for being true leaders in the field of substance abuse prevention. Our CADCA GOT OUTCOMES! winners exemplify the excellent work that coalitions are doing around the country to prevent and reduce drug use in their communities,” said Gen. Arthur T. Dean, CADCA’s Chairman and CEO.

Effective substance abuse prevention coalitions spend a significant amount of time gathering data to ensure that they select strategies that will make an impact. A partnership with Livingston County Schools and SUNY Geneseo College resulted in the finding that some underage youth were able to purchase alcohol from local retailers. As part of their efforts to address the issue comprehensively, the coalition collaborated with the Livingston County Sheriff’s Office and the Geneseo Police Department to educate community members about the issue, train retailers, and increase the enforcement of proper ID checks at local businesses.

Also, since the majority of youth access alcohol through social sources such as older friends and family members, the coalition worked to educate the community about this illegal behavior.

Project Sticker Shock is one example of an education effort that involves community members in the placement of stickers on bottles and cases of alcohol in retail stores with information about the risks and consequences of underage drinking and providing alcohol to minors. This strategy is combined with other efforts such as direct work with local youth populations taken on by the Livingston County Rotary and Kiwanis groups.

By involving all key community sectors in a process to assess the community conditions that contribute to underage drinking in Livingston County, HCTC has many positive outcomes to report. In 2014, 45 percent fewer middle and high school students said they have drank in the past 30 days. This number is based on data collected in 2004 that the coalition gathers every two years.

“I’m most proud of that accomplishment,” Pena said.

In addition, young people have changed their perceptions around alcohol access as fewer middle and high school students believe that alcohol is “easy” or “very easy” for them to access. Binge drinking is also on the decline in Livingston County among youth. Today, 47 percent fewer youth are drinking excessively as compared to 2004 when the data were originally gathered by the coalition.

At the Forum, Pena and Levy also participated in a poster presentation and discussion of their collaboration with SUNY Geneseo’s Healthy Campus Community coalition. In addition, they joined the Got Outcomes! Coalition of the Year from Hernando County, Fla., in a training session called “Creating Change: Coalitions in the Real World” where they talked about their data collection methods, working with many different communities and the college coalition.

Collaboration between HCTC, the Geneseo Police Department and the SUNY Geneseo Alcohol and other Drug Program, resulted in the Village of Geneseo enacting a social host ordinance last August.

Pena, who has worked in prevention for 13 years and is from the county in which she works, said that the New York State Office of Alcoholism & Substance Abuse Services encouraged her coalition to apply for the award.

The state entity received CADCA’s Outstanding State Member award in 2011.

“I really believe that when you get all these groups together and have the same goal, you can do great things,” Pena concluded.

For more information about the GOT OUTCOMES! Coalition of Excellence Award program, visit www.cadca.org/gotoutcomes

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Coalitions in Action: Florida Coalition Named Coalition of the Year