Scanning for the Problem
How Environmental Scans Can Lead to Neighborhood ActionI attended a wonderful training this week on incorporating effective media strategies into community outreach efforts. It was conducted by David Jernigan, Director of the Center for Alcohol Marketing and Youth (CAMY) & Michael Sparks, Alcohol Policy Specialist and CADCA trainer. They provided very useful information on ways to engage coalitions to immediate action through the use of environmental scans. Scans are short surveys that can provide information about a range of topics including: local attitudes towards drinking, determining the number of alcohol billboards and their effects on youth and adults, and finding out where kids are obtaining alcohol and the most common places they are drinking them. Scans are easy ways to get others involved; are great tools for engaging youth in your efforts, and provide relevant data in a short period of time. Once obtained, this data can be used to help decide on specific activities and strategies that your coalition would like to take.
EXAMPLE: Your coalition organized a community scan to determine adult attitudes towards drinking at school and community sponsored events such as the prom, sporting events, or social functions.
You enlisted the assistance of the PTA, local coaches, and area supermarkets to set-up polling sites at various dates and times over a three week period. The goal is to gather feedback from adults and parents from the community during special events and frequented retailers.
Once completed, your scan indicated that adults don't think drinking is a problem but don't want kids binge drinking (consuming 3-5 more drinks at one time).
As a result, your group may develop a presentation on "The Dangers of Binge Drinking & What Parents Need to Know" and conduct it at the local PTA meetings for middle and high schools; local libraries; and community health fairs. As part of your strategy, groups should be sure to contact local officials about the presentation; local and city news outlets such as Neighborhood papers and civic bulletins.
Remember--one strategy is not enough, groups should develop multiple approaches that increase community awareness and works towards greater enforcement of formal and informal protocols and policy changes that can offer systemic supports that help make a long term change.
Here are some links to a few samples
Until next time,