A Healthier Wisconsin

Changing the Culture of Risky Drinking Behavior: Underage Access

Reducing underage access to and use of alcohol in La Crosse County

Full Project Name:Changing the Culture of Risky Drinking Behavior: Underage AccessPrimary Community Organization:La Crosse Medical Health Science ConsortiumPrimary Academic Partner:Stephen Hargarten, MD, MPH, Emergency MedicineAward Amount:$300,000
Award Date
Project Duration:48 months

Project Description Narrative:

In 2007, nearly half of Wisconsin youth reported using alcohol in the past month, with 31% reporting binge drinking during the same time period. While statewide, Wisconsin has a deeply-rooted culture, and tolerance, of alcohol use, La Cross County was spurred to action following a series of tragic accidental drownings of intoxicated young residents. In response to community concern, several groups formed to tackle the issue of binge drinking in La Crosse.

Building upon a previous funding award that developed a community-driven strategic plan to reduce the culture of risky drinking in La Crosse, project partners aim to translate evidence-based strategies into action in order to reduce underage access and use of alcohol in La Crosse County.

Community partners: Coulee Council on Addictions, CESA #4, La Crosse City Police Department, La Crosse County Health Department

Additional MCW academic partner: Keri Briel Frisch, MS, Emergency Medicine

Outcomes & Lessons Learned:

  • Expanded and strengthened a countywide community coalition to ensure participation by county residents and leaders across all ages and sectors, reruiting 34 new members that included college students
  • Assembled a team of policymakers and community advisors, including city council members, law enforcement, county board members and an active volunteer with lobbying experience, to assist the coalition's policy change efforts
  • Built a community awareness campaign called "Parents Who Host Lose the Most," conducting the campaign each spring of the grant period. Campaign materials included yard signs, banners, posters, bookmarks, billboards, radio advertisements, and television public service announcements. In addition, established partnerships with local media resulting in numerous TV, radio, and newspaper pieces to spread awareness
  • Established $5,000 mini-grants to youth and school groups to support activities emphasizing alternatives to alcohol use, reaching more than 3,000 students in the first two years
  • Established partnerships with law enforcement to increase the consistency and improved enforcement of underage drinking laws countywide, including training 264 servers in responsible beverage service and partnering with local festivals to increase ID checking and use of wristbands
  • Leveraged $274,600 through in-kind time from project partners and established new funding through AHW for a five-year, $750,000 project aimed at creating a sustainable, safe environment for alcohol consumption

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8701 W Watertown Plank Road,
Milwaukee, WI 53226-0509
(414) 955-4350