Cities, counties and neighborhoods across America are confronting the problem of underage drinking and its consequences. As the professional organization representing the chief highway safety officers from each state, the District of Columbia and the U.S. territories, the National Association of Governors Highway Safety Representatives (NAGHSR) is committed to helping reduce illegal underage alcohol consumption and curb the terrible toll underage drinking takes on our society.
In March 1995, NAGHSR launched a pilot project on underage drinking funded by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA). The pilot assisted five communities in developing and implementing comprehensive underage drinking prevention programs based on a model initiated in the Washington, D.C. area in 1992 at the direction of the U.S. Congress.
The five NAGHSR pilot sites included Chesterfield County, VA; Travis County (Austin), TX; Omaha, NE; Detroit, MI and Salt Lake City, UT. In the first year, the project focused on developing broad-based community coalitions and helping those coalitions undertake an extensive needs assessment regarding the nature, extent and consequences of underage drinking in their communities.
Based on the information obtained during the needs assessment process, each site developed a comprehensive strategic plan that was implemented in subsequent years. The strategic plans included goals and objectives that were directly related to specific problems identified in the needs assessment. The objectives were specific and measurable so that progress could be tracked over time.
Each of the communities demonstrated success and four of the five programs continue to operate. The Travis County Underage Drinking Prevention Project in Austin, TX was nominated for a national award by the states highway safety office and the Safe and Sober Youth Project in Chesterfield County, VA continues to expand its operations and activities to other counties. Project Extra Mile in Omaha, NE and Save Our Youth in Salt Lake City, UT are actively involved in underage drinking efforts funded through the Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention (OJJDP). Project Extra Mile has received extensive media coverage and was the recipient of a 1999 Award from the National Commission Against Drunk Driving. The programs have succeeded in building awareness of the problem in their communities, mobilizing key members of the community to take action and changing policies, procedures and laws that directly relate to underage drinking.
To build on the success of the demonstration projects, NAGHSR and NHTSA decided in March 1998 to pilot test another approach to providing technical assistance to communities working to prevent underage drinking. The revised concept involved intense, short-term assistance to communities provided by a team of nationally recognized experts. State highway safety offices were invited to nominate communities to receive the technical assistance and NAGHSR and NHTSA chose six sites in various states. The on-site intensive technical assistance was christened the Rapid Response Team. The team provided technical assistance for coalitions, which already existed, but were having difficulty designing and implementing underage drinking prevention programs. Assistance by the Rapid Response Team gave each site a jump start in developing or strengthening comprehensive, needs-based underage drinking prevention programs.
The six communities selected to participate in the pilot, which was conducted from March 1998 to September 30, 1999, included Rio Arriba County, NM; Tippecanoe County, IN; Oswego County, NY; Hermantown, MN; Lenoir County, NC, and Prince Georges County, MD. Each of the six communities received the following:
NAGHSR also led the first phase of technical assistance for the Department of Justices Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention (OJJDP) nationwide program, Enforcing Underage Drinking Laws. In this effort, the NAGHSR team reviewed the underage drinking prevention plans for all 50 states and the District of Columbia and provided training for forty-eight states and the District of Columbia. The NAGHSR Community How To Guides on Underage Drinking Prevention contain information gleaned from the experience of the Washington, D.C., area model (the Washington Regional Alcohol Program and Drawing the Line on Underage Alcohol Use), the eleven sites in the two NAGHSR pilot projects, and the OJJDP technical assistance.
The National Association of Governors Highway Safety Representatives (NAGHSR) and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) wishes to thank the leaders in the NAGHSR underage drinking pilot sites and the rapid response pilot sites for their leadership and enthusiasm to address underage drinking within their communities.
The personnel involved in the first pilot effort include the following: Diane Riibe of Project Extra Mile in Omaha, Nebraska; Pat Farris, former Executive Director of Children At Risk Today in Chesterfield County, Virginia; Gloria Souhami of the Travis County Underage Drinking Prevention Project in Austin, Texas; Cherilynn Uden of Save Our Youth in Salt Lake City, Utah and Alma Gale, with the Bureau of Substance Abuse in Detroit, Michigan.
The pilot of the rapid response initiative involved the following individuals: Juan Roybal of the DWI Prevention Council in Rio Arriba County, New Mexico; Sally McIntire and Debbie Lowe of the Coalition for a Drug-Free Tippecanoe County in Layfayette, IN; Jane Murphy, Karen Hoffman and Barbara Canale of Take Charge Coalition in Oswego, New York; Barbara LaRoque of the Lenoir County Initiative to Reduce Underage Drinking, Kinston, North Carolina; Chris Olafson and Dave Thompson of the Learners At Risk Committee in Hermantown, Minnesota, and Dana Gigliotti of the Prince Georges Highway Safety Task Force in Prince Georges County, Maryland.
The success of the rapid response pilot was due to the involvement of the team of experts who provided valuable assistance and expertise. Individuals who participated as part of the Rapid Response Team included Marie Bishop, former Governors Highway Safety Representative in Idaho; Jim Copple, National Crime Prevention Council; Johnnetta Davis, Pacific Institute for Research and Evaluation; Captain Tom Didone, Montgomery County, Maryland Police Department; Nancy Chase Garcia, Garcia Consulting (formerly with Center for Substance Abuse Prevention); Andrew Hill, Higher Education Center for Alcohol and Other Drug Prevention; Officer William Morrison, Montgomery County, Maryland Police Department; Pat Nechodom, University of Utah; Nancy Rea, Drawing the Line on Underage Alcohol Use, Montgomery County, Maryland; Judy Robinson, Higher Education Center for Alcohol and Other Drug Prevention; Mary Ann Solberg, Troy Community Coalition; Ed Virant, Omaha Public Schools, and Lt. Dick Yost, Phoenix, Arizona Police Department.
Thanks also goes to the many individuals, coalitions and organizations whose ongoing dedication to reducing underage drinking provided an opportunity to test the validity of NAGHSRs comprehensive approach. Their ideas, enthusiasm and commitment demonstrate there is a willingness across this nation to tackle the problem of underage drinking.
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