In 2006, the Waterford Alcohol and Drug Education (W.A.D.E.) Coalition was formed to combat youth drinking and drug use. Five years later, it appears the effort has worked, according to results of a recent survey.
Waterford seventh, eighth and ninth graders are less likely to drink, are more likely to think their parents disapprove of drinking and are more likely to think alcohol will have negative physical effects compared to 2006, according to the survey. This is good, Waterford Youth Services’ Grant Coordinator Christine Poscich, who helps run W.A.D.E., said.
“It is a tribute to all of our hard work,” Poscich said. “It’s great news.”
In 2006, when the program began, surveys were handed out to seventh, eighth and ninth graders in Waterford schools, again in 2009, and then this year. Each time, the percentage of students who had ever tried alcohol went down, and the perception about drinking alcohol worsened, according to the survey.
For example, in 2006, 51 percent of those surveyed said they tried alcohol. In 2011, only 35 percent of those surveyed said they tried alcohol.
Also, the percentage of students who believed their parents “strongly disapproved” of drinking increased each year. In 2006, 43 percent of students thought their parents strongly disapproved of drinking, in 2011 that number was 63.5 percent.
This was huge, because parents were the target market of the first two media campaigns, Poscich said.
“Our first media campaign was aimed at parents, and our second media campaign was aimed at parents,” she said. “The places we are targeting, we are hitting.”
W.A.D.E. is composed of teachers and administrators from the Waterford School District, police officers, members of Waterford’s government, members of Waterford Youth Services and members of the public. As mentioned, in the past six years, W.A.D.E. has had two media campaigns.
The first one was “Are You Helping or Hurting,” which asked parents if they are helping or hurting the effort against underage drinking, Poscich said. The second was “Meet W.A.D.E.” which again featured bulletin boards and other advertisements against drinking, and encouraged parents to talk to their children about the dangers of drinking.
"Through our focus groups, we found out that if the parent don't say no, (kids) think it means yes," Poscich said.
W.A.D.E. does not do a lot of programs, instead more of these media campaigns, Poscich said. But Youth Services does have a Youth Action Council and some other programs to decrease teen drinking and drug use.
, Poscich said. A tip line has been set up, so students or others can call the line anonymously when they know about parties, she said.
A drinking party set to be held after homecoming was foiled already, when somebody sent the Facebook event to Police Youth Services Office Nicole VanOverloop. The tip line, which goes into effect on Dec. 19, should “put the kibosh” on other parties as well, VanOverloop said.