STEP Up Ware Workgroup’s Retreat
Recently, the STEP Up Ware Workgroup invited community members to attend “A Vision for our Children’s Future” Retreat. There was no mention that we would discuss underage drinking; the invitees only knew that the retreat would deal with children’s futures.
The theme for the retreat was a fishing trip. The Retreat Planning Committee wanted the participants to leave the retreat with a “tackle box” of resources on how to be more informed about the risks and dangers of underage drinking. The Planning Committee knew that most of the participants needed to become more aware of the problem and had two guest speakers tell their stories; one spoke of losing a son to alcohol poisoning on his high school graduation day and the other, a 2014 Teacher of the Year, spoke about following in love with alcohol at the age of 13 and the trials and tribulations of dealing with an addiction.
The Workgroup went on to explain to the participants, each from the seven sectors (business, media, faith and family, government, health care, schools and early childhood) of the community, that underage drinking affects the whole community – from early childhood education to the government.
A large part of the retreat was focused on understanding and addressing underage drinking in Ware County. First, participants selected from a list of contributing factors to help identify and understand why underage drinking is so prevalent. The number one answer was easy access to alcohol (underage) and the second was cultural attitudes or practices conducive to high substance use.
Next, participants worked on the strengths, weaknesses and resources of the community. From that the Workgroup was able to identify gaps in community members at the table.
Finally, the participants started working on an action plan for administrative sanctions. They listed the strategy, the responsible party and what actions needed to be taken to fulfill that strategy along with the timeline. The responses gave the Workgroup several action steps that will be taken to accomplish the strategy of Administrative Sanctions vs. Criminal Penalties.
Of course, the Workgroup asked that each sector go back to their communities and discuss what they learned in the Retreat and we hope you continue to spread the message in your community!
Check out photos from our fishing trip retreat on Facebook!