Local coalitions aim to prevent underage substance abuse - East Valley Tribune: Mesa

Local coalitions aim to prevent underage substance abuse

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Posted: Tuesday, April 29, 2014 12:15 pm | Updated: 4:28 pm, Wed Dec 3, 2014.

As prom and graduation for East Valley high school students approach, three coalitions have partnered to reduce underage drinking and drug use.

From April through June, when alcohol-related traffic fatalities and incidents are the highest, the Chandler Coalition on Youth Substance Abuse, Mesa Prevention Alliance and Tempe Coalition use public service announcements, campaigns and youth programs to address youth alcohol and drug use on a larger scale. These coalitions specifically target alcohol, marijuana, tobacco, prescription drugs and synthetic drug abuse.

According to its website, the Chandler Coalition on Youth Substance Abuse saw a need to create a partnership after the 2012 Arizona Youth survey concluded the average age a person begins drinking alcohol is 12.7 years in the Chandler redevelopment area. The Chandler coalition uses community education and outreach, campaigns and peer leadership programs to prevent and reduce underage drinking. It will host a Town Hall meeting on May 7 at 8 p.m. to educate the public about the effects of underage drinking.

The Mesa Prevention Alliance has several underage drinking prevention campaigns. “Protect, Don’t Provide” is a campaign that helps to raise community awareness on how Mesa youth obtain alcohol, said Program Director of the Mesa Prevention Alliance Karen Frias-Long.

The alliance works with the Mesa Police Department to target adults and youth through the shoulder tapping campaign. As part of the campaign, a youth volunteer will approach an adult and ask that person to buy alcohol: If they say yes, a police officer issues them a ticket.

Party Patrol is another campaign aimed at anyone under the age of 21 who is in the possession of alcohol. Mesa PD assigns specific nights dedicated to only underage drinking. It has issued 140 citations in the past year and a half, said Frias-Long.

The alliance has two peer leader programs: Promotora’s and CHAMPS. Promotora’s are parents in the community that work together to reduce the incidence of youth drinking. CHAMPS is a program for youth at Carson Jr. High and Westwood High School. Students learn about the risks and harm of alcohol and other drugs and the impact of these choices.

The Tempe Coalition is partnering with ASU for the “21 or Too Young” campaign to reduce underage drinking. The campaign uses PSAs to educate and inform the public.

The Coalition also has a pledge to not drink or use marijuana that adults and youth can sign on the website.

“We know that during this time of year, youth are celebrating and may be tempted to use drugs or alcohol, and we want to provide education to our community that will keep our kids safe.” said Bobbie Cassano, Tempe coalition coordinator.

Visit www.ccysachandler.org, www.mesapreventionalliance.org and www.tempecoalition.org for more information about the three groups.

• Kelly Kleber is a senior at ASU’s Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication. She is an intern with the Tribune this semester. Reach her at tribintern@evtrib.com.

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