Across our society we see more and more an emphasis on collaboration as the best means of solving problems. When it comes to preventing the misuse of alcohol, things are no different; getting people to work together is the key. Whether you are a hospitality worker in a restaurant, bar or hotel or a police officer, regulator or lawyer, you can help bring about the change we all want for our communities.
The first step toward making lasting, widespread change and creating responsible communities is joining with other motivated persons with whom we might not otherwise normally interact.
One important ingredient for such partnerships is training and education. Communities are realizing the value of alcohol server, seller and consumer education to achieve their goals. Programs such as TIPS (Training for Intervention ProcedureS) offer a variety of training tools to reach a wide range of people. One consistent message throughout the community ensures that all the stakeholders "speak the same language" when it comes to preventing underage sales and consumption, drunk driving and intoxication.
Another key ingredient is communication. A dynamic training and education program brings together people within a framework that facilitates real communication. People who may not typically see eye-to-eye can come together and find common ground in an informal and impartial setting. Recognition of shared goals often leads to the understanding that "we're all in this together" and to the emergence of strategies and tactics for tackling the problem.
Any effective initiative involving key stakeholders will require a community action plan. A good action plan will:
1. Identify goals.
2. Identify a point person and committee/task force members.
3. Secure commitment from potential partners.
4. Identify programs to be trained.
5. Identify who needs to be trained.
6. Identify trainers.
7. Certify trainers.
8. Schedule training classes.
9. Notify the media.
Community stakeholders who commit to the plan can enhance their standing in the community by reaching out to others. For example, a restaurant with a certified trainer on staff not only can provide alcohol server training to its employees, but may also be able to offer education services to the local university, other establishments and consumers. The same approach can be applied with law enforcement, community coalitions and other commercial establishments that serve or sell alcohol.
Successful communities recognize the need to include diverse groups in their efforts and are realizing that coalition (or community) building is an effective strategy. Working together, they are able to address the problems associated with alcohol misuse in their communities from a number of different angles, thereby increasing the success of their efforts.
Adam Chafetz is president and CEO of Health Communications, the Arlington, Va.-based firm that developed TIPS (Training for Intervention ProcedureS). TIPS originated as a server training program for bartenders and servers, and now meets the diverse needs of communities across the globe. For more information, visit www.gettips.com.