By Anna Guido
The battle against teenage drinking is getting a boost in parts of Greater Cincinnati.
Ohio Parents for Drug Free Youth this month awarded $75,000 in grants to agencies in 39 Ohio communities, including in Butler and Hamilton counties.
The Alcohol and Chemical Abuse Council in Hamilton received $2,500, and the Northeast Community Challenge Coalition in Blue Ash received $2,000.
The funds are paying for a public awareness campaign on underage drinking called "Parents Who Host, Lose The Most: Don't be a party to teenage drinking."
Ohio Parents for Drug Free Youth is a nonprofit organization that gets funding from the Ohio Department of Alcohol and Drug Addiction Services. For more information, call Ohio Parents for Drug Free Youth at (614) 540-9985 or go to www.ohioparents.org
"The goal of the campaign is to inform parents that hosting teen drinking parties should not be regarded as a `rite of passage,' but as a health and safety issue with legal ramifications," said Patricia Harmon, executive director of Ohio Parents for Drug Free Youth.
The annual campaign is timed to coincide with spring proms and graduations, when underage drinking is more prevalent.
The Alcohol and Chemical Abuse Council is using its grant to fund a project in March of the area's Drug Free School Consortium.
"We will be gathering about 100 middle school students at Camp Campbell Gard for a substance abuse summit," said council president Tom Kelechi.
"The day will be spent writing, filming and creating public service announcements for different media."
The public service announcements will be offered to local media and schools, Kelechi said. They also will be offered to Los Angeles-based Channel One News, a daily 10-minute newscast beamed via satellite to more than 8 million viewers in 12,000 schools.
The Northeast Community Challenge Coalition - which serves Blue Ash, Montgomery, Sycamore and Symmes townships - is using its grant to focus on parents, said Dr. Loretta Novince, developmental psychologist and project director for the coalition.
The campaign will begin in April.
Plans include a parent summit with speakers, and mailings to parents of students in grades 7-12 in all community schools addressing the health, safety and legal issues of underage drinking.
Holly Zweizig, assistant director for Ohio Parents for Drug Free Youth, said grants this year are about "average" compared to past three years. The program received about $100,000 in 2000, its first year.
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