Coalition Aims to Decrease Teen Drinking

Rachael Ozckus

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Founder of Lamorinda Alcohol Coalition, Jaime Zafanella, organizes community stakeholders to inform teenagers about the consequences of underage alcohol abuse

Jaime Zafanella, Miramonte parent and Lamorinda Alcohol Policy Coordinator for the community based, non-profit organization, the Center for Human Development, works with others in the community to decrease teen consumptions of alcohol as the head of Lamorinda’s alcohol coalition.

Zafanella’s 100 interviews required to gain approval for the committee reveal the supportive nature of the community. With almost every interviewee advocating an alcohol policy coalition in Lamorinda, the organization is able to bring the community together to work on the issue of teen drinking.

So far, at least 15 people have attended each alcohol coalition meeting including the Moraga Police Chief, a detective from the Lafayette Police Department, Principal Adam Clark, the Principal of OIS, the Principal of Stanley Middle School, parents, members of the Lamorinda faith community, an Orinda city council member, an AUHSD school board member, an LAFSD school board member, the Lafayette mayor, a representative from Supervisor Uilkema’s office, the Fire Battalion Chief from the Orinda/Moraga fire department, a reporter from the Lamorinda Weekly and others.

The latest statistics from the Healthy Kids Survey taken by High School Students in PE and Health classes reveal the significant need for action concerning teen drinking in Lamorinda. The survey states that 43% of 11th graders in the AUHSD reported drinking in the past 30 days, 48% of 11th graders in the AUHSD reported having been drunk or sick from using alcohol, and 22% of 11th graders and 11% of 9th graders reported having been drunk on school property.

“Many community members and experts that live in the community believe it is a big problem, including the police,” said Zafanella. “Alcohol is the number one drug of choice for young people. Everyone I have spoken to in the community, at the schools, police, parents, and even young people themselves believe this to be true.”

The alcohol coalition focuses on making alcohol less accessible. “My work is based on environmental prevention, reducing access and changing norms, so if it’s harder to access alcohol. If the norms around drinking change in the community, the hopes are that it will then reduce the number of young people drinking,” said Zafanella.

As of now, the coalition has not decided what action to take. This month marks the setting of goals where most of the work will revolve around policy. Zafanella hopes to involve more young people and community members in this process of prevention. To participate in the effort feel free to contact her via the information below.

Jaime Rich Zafanella: Jaime@chd-prevention.org or at 925-687-8844×227

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