Addressing Clark County’s Culture of Alcohol Abuse

The Clark County Health Department is bringing alcohol education to a surprising new setting: local campgrounds. Mirroring the overall trend in Wisconsin, adult binge drinking in the Northeast region rose to 25% of the adult population in 2016 [BRFSS 2016]. So the Department of Health Services began looking for ways to offer safe spaces where people could gather and play the alcohol-free way.

L to R: Marcus Aumann, Shawn Ganther, Rebecca Rosandick

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Left to right: Marcus Aumann, Clark County Parks and Programs Manager; Shawn Ganther, Clark County Prevention Educator; Rebecca Rosandick, Clark County Health Educator/Public Health Specialist

Health department staffers quickly realized that camping was an affordable local activity with broad public appeal. With help from Clark County’s Forestry and Parks Department, they developed a pilot program to create alcohol-free campsites in their county. The first step? Using surveys to gauge people’s support for the program.

“After presenting data back to the Forestry and Parks Committee, members acknowledged that there was, indeed, notable camper interest and community support for implementing a limited number of alcohol-free campsites,” says Rebecca Rosandick, Clark County Health Educator and Public Health Specialist. “However, after much discussion, they felt it would be difficult to enforce a no-alcohol policy at that time.” Their new solution? Installing educational signs at all 10 Clark County campgrounds that promote responsible behavior.

It’s not the end result Clark County Health Department staffers were expecting, but it is a success. “This project was able to educate both community members and Forestry and Parks Committee members about the state of alcohol in Clark County,” explains Rebecca. “Cultural changes are slow, but with signage promoting positive behavior around children, we are making small steps in the right direction.”