A state grant has been awarded to an Adams County organization to help combat underage drinking in the county's Latino community.
The Gettysburg-based Collaborating for Youth received $16,986 from the Pennsylvania Liquor Control Board to study the problem, and implement strategies to reduce it.
"The PLCB understands the many issues communities face as a result of underage drinking and irresponsible consumption," liquor control board chairman Joseph E. Brion said in a press release. "These grant awards allow us to make a positive impact on the health and well-being of Pennsylvania families and their communities."
Finding the causes is the first step in discovering a solution, said Collaborating for Youth Drug Free Communities Coordinator Emily Knowles-Kellett.
She said her organization is dedicated to creating a healthy, drug-free community, and when they were approached by the Latino Services Task Force for the program, it seemed like a perfect fit.
The study will look at a number of factors, like youth perception of alcohol consumption, availability of alcohol in the home, and health risks associated with it.
Knowles-Kellett said they already have some initial statistics from a recent Pennsylvania Youth Survey which shows that in most age groups, the underage alcohol consumption rate of Latino youths is only a few percentage points higher than that of the general population.
Alcohol use in the last 30 days for sixth-graders is at 9 percent of
the Latino population and 5 percent of the general population. For eighth-graders, the percentage is 13 percent for Latinos and 19 percent for the general population. For 10th-graders, the number is 32 percent for both populations, and for 12th-graders, the number is 42 percent for both populations.
The study will look at the reasons behind these numbers, which could involve cultural differences.
Yeimi Gagliardi, chairwoman of the Latino Services Task Force, said her organization has worked for the last five years to gain a better understanding of the needs of the Latino community, and found they should educate Latinos more on the laws of Pennsylvania, including underage drinking. The legal drinking age in Mexico is 18, as opposed to 21 here, she said, which could be one contributing factor.
"This will help us identify the risk factors and behaviors that cause underage drinking in the general and Latino communities," she said.
Gagliardi hopes the study will result in more educational opportunities that will reduce the underage drinking statistics among Latinos.
The organizations are kicking off their campaign Wednesday.
Other participating organizations include WellSpan Health, Keystone Health, Healthy Adams County, Manos Unidas, Vida Charter School, Gettysburg College, Community Media of Southcentral PA, the Rice Fruit Company, Adams County Head Start, Family First Health, Lincoln Intermediate Unit No. 12 and St. Francis Xavier Church.
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