Alcohol is the most often used drug among Georgia's youth, Centers for Disease Control research reveals. On average, the onset age of drinking alcohol in Colquitt County is 12. According to the Georgia Student Health Survey, 17 percent of Colquitt County students middle school and up had consumed alcohol within a month of the day of the survey,.
“That's why we're so grateful for $10,000 in funding through the Department of Behavioral Health and Development Disabilities (DBHDD) and its contractor HEARTS for Families to develop an awareness initiative here,” said Lori Glenn, coordinator of Colquitt County Family Connection Collaborative.
Underage drinking and alcohol abuse among young adults is a widespread public health and safety problem. It has serious personal, social and economic consequences, state officials said. To address the negative impact of alcohol use in Georgia, the DBHDD has developed a Georgia Strategic Prevention System (GASPS). This initiative aims to impact population level change of behaviors and trends of alcohol use and abuse among youth and young adults ages 9 through 25.
GASPS is using the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration/Center for Substance Abuse Prevention Strategic Prevention Framework model to develop and implement strategies aimed at population level change using the public health model approach. This approach uses environmental strategies that often focus on media, enforcement and policy to help create an environment that supports healthy, safe behavior.
The GASPS statewide alcohol initiative will address three primary goals: Reduce the early onset of alcohol use among youth ages 9 to 20, reduce access to alcohol and binge drinking among youth 9 to 20 and reduce binge and heavy drinking among 18- to 25-year-olds.
Family Connection received $10,000 through GASPS contractor HEARTS for Families, a social nonprofit based out of Snellville, for the local initiative, Glenn said.
Part of that funding will go to an Achievement Center arts program through the Colquitt County Arts Center, she said. At-risk high school students are designing a county-wide multimedia campaign to raise awareness about the perils of underage drinking and alcohol abuse. The arts center is taking on the task of instructing and guiding these at-risk students through the process of developing a media campaign from concept and graphic arts design to digital production. Advertisements developed will be published this spring in various media forms including online ads, over-the-road banners, billboards and print, television and online ads. Plans are to display students' original artwork created for the campaign this spring as well.
“The impact of their participation in the program under the direction of art instructor Kathy Nelson and graphic designer Lydia Tyler will offer the opportunity for growth, development and a sense of conscience for these students,” said Jane Simpson, director of programs at Colquitt County Arts Center. “The recognition of the program's professional interpretation of the message of alcohol abuse by their peers will be the standards used to measure the success of the program.”