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Litzow Throws Weight Behind new Underage Drinking Effort

Parents are encouraged to “Draw the Line” between kids and alcohol in a revitalized statewide prevention campaign.

(Ed. Note: Mercer Island Patch Editor is a member of the Mercer Island Communities That Care (CTC) Coalition)

Seeking to extend Mercer Island's high-visibility on the issue of underage drinking,  Department of (MIYFS) has enlisted the support of local State Sen. Steve Litzow (R-Mercer Island) in a revitalized statewide prevention campaign, according to a city press release.

, which launched several months ago, will see a renewed push in the form of blue banners, posters, and wristbands around the community that draw attention to the campaign against underage drinking.

In addition to proposing a new  earlier this month, MIYFS — through its Communities that Care Coalition — has also run a positive social norms media campaign locally for several years to reduce underage drinking on a community-wide level. 

"(Litzow) has always been a strong supporter of the CTC," said Derek Franklin, a YFS administrator and director of the local CTC program. "It's important because — just like any statewide campaign — it gets more traction if it gets support from Olympia."

The effort is directed out of Olympia by the State Department of Social and Health Services,Division of Behavioral Health and Recovery (DBHR) and the Washington State Coalition to Reduce Underage Drinking (RUaD).

The new effort, as in the past, utilizes local data on community norms to enhance and bring relevance to the state-wide initiative. According to MIYFS's 2010 Healthy Youth Survey, underage drinking among Mercer Island High School seniors is at the lowest rate in a decade. However, it remains a concern on the Island where 44% of seniors still report drinking alcohol in a typical month

In addition, MIYFS staff will be delivering educational presentations to parents on the protective benefits of discussing rules about alcohol with their children. According to city hall, studies show that parents have the largest influence on a child’s decision to drink and that underage drinking is significantly reduced in those families that have discussed and set clear “no use” rules. Franklin also stressed that the "Draw the Line" campaign could be applied to efforts to prevent drug use, as well.

"We're blending it," he said. "It‘s a broader theme, not just about alcohol."

Litzow, a former Mercer Island City Councilman, was .

For more information about the state-wide “Let’s draw the Line” initiative visit: www.letsdrawtheline.org. For more information about the MIYFS Communities that Care Coalition visit: www.mercerisland-ctc.com

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