Eckstein aims to reduce 8th-grade alcohol use

Eighth-graders at Eckstein Middle School use alcohol significantly more often than the state average, according to a survey.

On Nov. 6, a group met at the school to discuss a program designed to combat this problem. It was the first meeting of a community coalition funded by the Washington State Division of Alcohol and Substance Abuse (DASA). In 2004, the coalition surveyed middle-school students throughout the state on a number of "problematic behaviors," including the use of alcohol.

Survey says...

DASA found an average of 18 percent of eighth-grade students in the state had consumed an alcoholic beverage within the last 30 days.

However, among Eckstein students, an average of 23 percent of eighth-graders reported consuming alcoholic drinks within the last 30 days, while 46 percent admitted to having used alcohol at least once.

The question was asked, where do eighth-graders get alcoholic beverages? Apparently, homeless people who hang out near stores are willing to buy for underage drinkers. Also, students steal from grocery stores or get alcohol from older friends, older siblings and even from parents who believe it is OK to give their children alcohol as long as they are under their supervision.

The most popular drink consumed, according to Marc Bolan, an evaluation consultant with the Eckstein Community Center, is Mike's Hard Lemonade because it is the least likely to taste like alcohol but still gives drinkers the feeling and idea that they are drinking alcohol. Vodka is second because it is the most easily accessible from their own homes and can be easily replaced by stealing or refilling bottles with water so parents don't realize their children are stealing from them.

DASA used the Healthy Youth Survey, or the Communities That Care (CTC) survey. The CTC youth survey is "made to understand and decipher students' involvement in a specific set of problematic behaviors, as well as their exposure to...risk and protective factors that influence the likelihood of academic success, school dropout, substance abuse and violence amongst students," according to the Social Development Research Group of the University of Washington.

A five-year program

With a higher-than-average percentage of the state's middle-school alcohol consumption, Eckstein, along with 12 other schools throughout the state, received a Strategic Prevention Framework-State Incentive Grant (SPF-SIG). SPF-SIG has donated $130,000 a year for each school to create and carry out an alcohol-prevention program for the next five years.

At the Eckstein meeting, Eckstein Middle School community coordinator Inga Manskopf gave an overview of the SPF-SIG project. She said this would be the first and most critical building year for the coalition to create an alcohol-prevention program. Participation is very important and will be the foundation of what may come out of the five-year program, she added.

After the meeting, Bolan brain-stormed ideas with faculty, administrators, police officials, parents and others. They worked toward developing long-term strategies to reduce alcohol use not only in the next five years but beyond that as well. The goal for the program is to reduce the current use of alcohol use to less than the current state average of 18 percent.

The program will have two groups: Data Assessment and Resource Assessment. All community members are encouraged to be involved; both groups will help in organizing and getting to the goal of alcoholic prevention.

Once both assessments are completed, the coalition hopes to "identify three priorities to focus prevention efforts on and develop a strategic prevention plan addressing those priorities. Strategies will address community, family, peer, individual and/or school factors contributing to underage drinking."

"The beauty of this project is that the community, represented by coalition members, will decide what prevention strategies will be implemented. This is why it's important for the coalition to be made up of people who represent the wider Eckstein community," Manskopf said.

Next meeting

The coalition hopes to meet once a month for an hour and a half, and everyone is welcome. The next meeting will take place Thursday, Dec. 14, from 8 to 9:30 a.m., in the staff lounge at Eckstein Middle School, 3003 N.E. 75th St. Attendees are asked to check in at the main office.For more information contact Manskopf, at 252-5010 or 206-396-0919, or via e-mail at inmanskopf@

Coalition meeting

Thursday, Dec. 14

8-9:30 a.m.

Eckstein Middle School

3003 N.E. 75th St.

staff lounge

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