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  Free To Grow
  Mailman School
  of Public Health
  Columbia University
  722 West 168th Street,
  8th Floor
  New York, NY 10032

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NOTE: as of April 17, 2007, the Free to Grow program has closed.
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Community Awareness
What are your community's norms around alcohol and drug use and abuse? Are there different standards applied to misuse of alcohol than of illegal drugs? Is binge drinking and experimentation with illegal drugs considered an inevitable part of growing up -- no big deal, as long as no one gets hurt? Do most residents understand the relationship between alcohol and drug abuse and child abuse? Do they care?

These are the kinds of questions that community awareness strategies are designed to address. Utilizing diverse approaches, community awareness strategies are intended to bring attention to the impact of high risk behaviors on individuals and the community at large -- and in doing so, set the stage for behavior change. Increasingly, community awareness strategies have incorporated an understanding of social marketing -- acknowledging that building awareness in order to change behavior requires analysis of your target audiences, their current beliefs and attitudes, and the values held which might influence and impact behavior.

Community awareness strategies take time -- and are best integrated into a comprehensive range of prevention and intervention strategies that reinforce their messages. One has only to look at the evolution of the acceptability of smoking within the United States over the past thirty years -- and the continuing challenges to reduce the number of new smokers (even amidst a changed cultural climate) -- to gain an appreciation of the difficulty of impacting broad-based behavior change. Nonetheless, effective community awareness activities can help bolster other prevention strategies, and build a local climate more conducive to their messages.

Click here for information on additional resources and strategies.

Community Awareness Strategies

  Mothers Against Drunk Driving: Designate a Driver Program
  First Night International


copyright 2008 Free To Grow
Free To Grow is a national program supported by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and the Doris Duke Charitable Foundation with direction and technical assistance provided by the Mailman School of Public Health of Columbia University.