CAZ ACTION is a youth adult partnership working to reduce the impact and incidence of underage drinking through increased community involvement. As the coordinator for CAZ ACTION, I wanted to take the opportunity to reintroduce ourselves to the community. We are simply a group of concerned citizens that are working to develop relationships and partnerships within our community that will enable us to reduce the traumatic and life changing consequences of underage drinking.

Our philosophy is that underage drinking is not a youth problem but rather an adult problem. Anywhere, anytime you have a child drinking you must have an adult involved somewhere: selling, providing, allowing or simply looking away. The major focus of the Coalition has been and continues to be changing adult attitudes, perceptions and community policies.

We, as a community, are slowly becoming aware of what it is that we can and need to do in order to make lasting, community level changes. The research-based terminology for this type of effort is called "Environmental Strategies". So what does that mean to us- community members who want our homes, streets, and parks to be safe havens for our youth to become healthy adults? The answer is both simple and complex:

Environmental strategies focus on changing the physical, social, and political settings in which problem behaviors occur. The three "legs" of this approach are: limiting access of youth to alcohol, increasing enforcement of existing statures, and community education.

We need to educate ourselves as to the reality of how, where and when kids drink today, and the tools that we have available to us as a community to help keep our kids from hurting themselves.

Where do we, as a coalition, as a community, go from here? We certainly need to continue and strengthen what we have already achieved. We also need to be more pro-active in educating ourselves about the staggering amounts of alcohol consumed by youth in our community.

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