Thursday, May 9, 2013

Reducing Underage & Excessive Drinking in the Bronx -- An Exciting New Opportunity for Bronx Health REACH

Recently, we participated in a planning meeting for year 3 of the Partnership for a Healthier NYC’s Community Transformation Grant (CTG). Bronx Health REACH is the borough lead organization for the Bronx. CTG focuses on four priority areas: improving access to healthier food and beverage choices while reducing unhealthy options, reducing underage and excessive drinking, increasing opportunities for active living, and decreasing exposure to secondhand smoke in homes and public spaces.  Last spring, it seemed that alcohol was the focus area that borough lead organizations of the Partnership found most challenging. A year later, this has changed. There is now tremendous energy and excitement round the initiative among the borough lead organizations, community members, organizations, and leaders across the borough.  Who would have ever thought?!

Among the exciting activities that have happened over the last few months, was our collaboration with the Partnership for a Healthier NYC, other borough lead organizations, and community partners to organize a citywide event for Alcohol Awareness Month on April 10th.  April was Alcohol Awareness Month. The interactive event focused on uncovering alcohol’s hidden harms, including the fact that 1 in 10 hospital stays in NYC is alcohol-related.  Among the many arts-based projects displayed at the event, there was a “Share Your Story” wall and a screening of the youth produced "Under 21:  Why We Drink." Over 100 people attended the event. Click here for photos. In addition to generating interest around this initiative in the community and connecting us to new partners, this event afforded the borough lead organization their first real opportunity to collaborate on a citywide activity. If this collaboration is anything to go by I anticipate a lot more exciting joint efforts by the borough leads in coming years.

Another activity has been partnering with community groups and residents to assess alcohol availability and marketing in their community.  In March, Mellanie Garner, a Kingsbridge resident, and Sarah Shaikh from Bon Secours New York Healthy Communities Initiative – one of our new community partners in the Northwest Bronx – drove around Kingsbridge – a “mixed residential” community in the Northwest Bronx – to identify where alcohol was sold and marketed.  Bon Secours posted their findings on their Healthy Corner Stores blog.  Below are a few excerpts from the blog. Also, they presented their findings at the April 10th Alcohol Awareness Month event.

There are over 10 alcohol outlets in the area. These outlets are within close proximity to beauty parlors, churches, clothing stores, laundry mats. The stores are also located in close proximity to areas where people normally live and gather such as parks, and residential areas.

The [alcohol] ads for these products are located at the front windows of the stores that sometimes are used for loitering. The ads are not targeted solely toward youth however some of the retailers provide snack food and are heavily visited by youth in the neighborhood.