Nationwide acclaim for Tempe group’s efforts to reduce underage drinking

Nationwide acclaim for Tempe group’s efforts to reduce underage drinking

By Diana Whittle

64207165_000353174-2The Tempe Coalition recently
gained national recognition for
its work targeted at reducing
underage drinking and drug abuse.
The coalition, a partnership
between the city of Tempe and Tempe
Community Council, received a
national Milestones Award from the
Community Anti-Drug Coalitions
of America, which is the premiere
national membership organization for
those who are working to make their
communities safe, healthy and drugfree.
CADCA awarded the Tempe
Coalition with its “Got Outcomes —
Coalition of Excellence Milestones
Award,” presented to newer
coalitions, which are less than five
years old and have implemented a
set of comprehensive strategies and
initiatives aimed toward a communitylevel
reduction of one or more
elements of substance abuse.
The Tempe Coalition believes that
for a community to be safe and healthy,
youth drug use and underage drinking
needs to be reduced, said Bobbie
Cassano, Tempe Coalition coordinator.
It’s a challenge that attracts
members across all segments of the
community from private residents to
school districts and the Chamber of
Commerce, Cassano said.
Some of the members who
traveled to the national conference
in Maryland and received the award
in person included Melody Johnson,
Tempe Coalition Chair-Elect and
Tempe Chamber of Commerce
vice president of membership
development; Rick Horvath, Tempe
Elementary School District assistant
superintendent; and Cassidy Olson,
Tempe Coalition assistant.
While at the conference, Tempe
Coalition representatives also met with
Arizona Sen. John McCain and Sen.
Jeff Flake to discuss the coalition’s
work and the importance of supporting
community youth substance abuse
prevention efforts.
“The Tempe Coalition’s work
positively and powerfully impacts
residents of Tempe and beyond,”
Tempe Coalition chair-elect Melody
Johnson said.
“We have been able to achieve
measureable outcomes by bringing
representation from all sectors of our
community to the table—analyzing our
challenges and initiating change.”
Tempe Coalition is made up of 35
members from a variety of community
sectors whose mission is to mobilize
local citizens to help youth reach their
full potential by reducing underage
drinking and drug use through
community leadership, education and
collaboration.
The organization is funded
by grants from the Drug Free
Communities Support Program and
Magellan Health Services of Arizona.
In the Valley, Tempe Coalition
is boosting its efforts by working with
neighboring groups in Chandler and
Mesa through June, coinciding with a
seasonal rise in alcohol-related traffic
fatalities and incidents as students
celebrate the end of the school year
and graduations.
“This is an exciting opportunity
for our coalitions to have a bigger
impact and reach more parents and
youth with our efforts,” said Tempe
coordinator Cassano.
“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.”
Previous work of the coalition to
reduce underage drinking resulted in
the passage of the city’s “Social Host”
ordinance in Tempe, which holds
responsible those who serve alcohol to
underage youth.
In addition, the coalition
developed a community-wide
educational campaign called “21 or Too
Young,” which features community
events, a pledge component, billboards,
and public service announcements.
During the school-year, the
Tempe Coalition also hosts community
education and a speakers bureau
focused on creating awareness about
the dangers of underage drinking;
facilitates a peer leadership program
to engage Tempe middle- and highschool
students to remain healthy
and drug-free; and maintains a strong
partnership with the Tempe Police
Department and other local prevention
organizations to reduce underage
drinking.

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