In coordination with National Alcohol Awareness Month, the West Garfield Park Community Stakeholders organized local politicians, residents and activists for a Campaign to Reduce Underage Drinking, Substance Abuse and Senseless Violence in the West Garfield Park Community. The rally was held on Saturday, April 18, 2015 outside of Personal Liquors, 4241 West Madison in Chicago.
Underage Drinking is a social ill that is not being addressed via facts reported by SAMHSA – Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, accordingly, “about 11 percent of eighth graders reported drinking during the past 30 days, with 3.6 percent of them drinking to intoxication. Rates for 10th graders were 28 percent reporting past 30-day use and 14.5 percent drinking to intoxication, while rates for 12th graders were 42 percent reporting past 30-day use and 28.1 percent drinking to intoxication”.
Guest Speakers included Congressman Danny K. Davis, Representative La Shawn Ford, Alderman Jason Ervin, Commissioner Richard Boykin, 11th District Community Policing under Commander Barbara West and Jerry Stender, Owner of Personal Liquors.

The West Garfield Park Community Stakeholders are a federally funded Drug Free Community Program supported by Fathers Who Care, a local nonprofit. The purpose of the West Garfield Park Community Stakeholders is to create opportunities via programs, activities and events to help direct youth towards positive alternatives to violence as well as teaching them how to become productive citizens through positive civic engagement.

Prevention Works! While much work remains, prevention efforts have reduced underage drinking and its consequences:

  • Rates of current, binge, and heavy alcohol use by 12 to 20 year olds declined between 2002 and 2012. Over this timespan, the rate of current alcohol use decreased from 28.8 to 24.3 percent, and the rate of binge drinking declined from 19.3 to 15.3 percent. The rate of heavy drinking declined from 6.2 to 4.3 percent.
  • The age 21 minimum legal drinking age laws have reduced alcohol-related traffic fatalities by 13 percent and have saved an estimated 27,677 lives since 1975.

Overall Health and Safety Risks for West Garfield Park:
The Illinois Department of Human Services (IDHS) has funded the administration of the Illinois Youth Survey (IYS) biennially since 1993. The IYS is a self-report survey administered in school settings and is designed to gather information about a variety of health and social indicators including substance use patterns and attitudes of Illinois youth.

Data from the IYS 2014, specifically for West Garfield Park around underage alcohol use is as follows:
11% of 6th graders and 17% or 8th graders self-report that they do drink alcohol. 7% of 6th graders (of those that participated in the survey) and 3% of 8th graders self-report binge drinking. Binge drinking is defined as 4 drinks for females and 5 for males in a 2 hour period. The drink of choice was reported with the highest percentage with those who drink as alcohol with an energy drink, 57% for 6th graders and 60% for 8th graders.

Data is not currently available for High School age students specifically for West Garfield Park alone.

For the Austin neighborhood data for HS students is as follows:
35% of 10th graders and 37% of 12th graders drink with 20-22% of those who drink report binge drinking. The highest percentages of alcohol choice were reported for Vodka, alcohol pops (wine coolers, hard lemonade, and hard cider), and then liquor with energy drinks.

For more information on reducing underage drinking and its prevention, visit: and access the latest Report to Congress on the Prevention and education of Underage Drinking, with current federal and individual state policies and programs.

For additional information on how we can collectively work to Reduce Underage Drinking, Substance Abuse and Senses Violence in our community, contact the West Garfield Park Community Stakeholders, contact Rev. Walter Amir Jones at 773-287-5821

Dawn Ferencak

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