North Adams- State Senator Benjamin B. Downing (D-Pittsfield) and State Representative Daniel E. Bosley (D-North Adams) are pleased to announce that the Massachusetts Department of Public Health’s (DPH) Bureau of Substance Abuse has awarded a $100,000 award to the Northern Berkshire Community Coalition for their Communities Mobilizing for Change in Alcohol (CMCA) initiative.
“With some of the highest underage drinking rates in the state, the Berkshires are in great need of meaningful intervention strategies,” remarked Downing. “The work of the Northern Berkshire Community Coalition - aimed at reducing adolescent access to alcohol- is essential for reshaping our communities and enhancing the lives of our youth. I am pleased DPH has recognized their hard work and granted this award.”
Recent survey results released by DPH indicate that Berkshire County has one of the highest rates in Massachusetts of alcohol use by persons between 12 – 20 years old, and one of the higher rates of alcohol dependence or abuse in the past year by persons 12 and older.
Representative Bosley said, “The Northern Berkshire Community Coalition has done a great job over the years providing high quality community services to residents throughout Northern Berkshire County. It is all of our responsibility to look after the youth in our communities and make sure that they are given the proper guidance and information to make good choices. This grant will help accomplish that. I look forward to working with the coalition and members of the community in continuing to address the issues affecting our young residents.”
With this funding the Northern Berkshire Community Coalition will conduct CMCA initiatives in North Adams, Adams and Williamstown with a goal of transforming societal norms and acceptance around underage drinking by working with law enforcement, community leaders, parents, youth and local service providers. Strategies will include twice yearly compliance checks for all vendors serving alcohol, enforcement of underage drinking laws and the development of locally driven solutions, policies and education.
Upon hearing the news, Northern Berkshire Community Coalition Executive Director Al Bashevkin said, “We re thrilled to receive the funding. It will allow us to continue our work in changing community norms to help put an end to underage drinking- it’s a problem in Berkshire County and particularly in Northern Berkshire. We have a good model (CMCA) and will continue to follow it.”
Northern Berkshire Community Coalition will use this funding to help staff and manage “strategy teams”- teams comprised of professionals, community members, parents and youth- in each of the three communities. These teams will assess underage drinking within their community and develop targeted social marketing programs that will stress the issued they have identified.
If you are concerned about underage drinking and the negative effects is has on our youth and communities, you may join a strategy team by contacting Jenna Cece at the Northern Berkshire Community Coalition at (413) 663-7588.