Mrs. Carol and I were talking a few days ago and decided that this would be the perfect avenue for me to explain just what the TRACC Coalition is and what this Coalition does. There are too many people who do not know about us.
TRACC stands for Tangipahoa - Reshaping Attitudes for Community Change. Most people did not know that Tangipahoa Parish was listed as one of the state’s top ten parishes with an average way above what is considered “ideal” for alcohol related car crashes. So, with the inception of SPF – SIG (Strategic Prevention Framework – State Incentive Grant), the parish got right to work on trying to drastically reduce these alcohol related crashes/fatalities. In March of 2008, the TRACC Coalition held their first monthly meeting and have been meeting every month since then.
The first order of business was to research why Tangipahoa Parish is one of those top ten parishes for alcohol related crashes. Bridget Bailey, the Project Director, has worked countless hours with the grants that TRACC receives, researching, finding ways for communities to come together to combat the excessive alcohol use, educating the general public of the dangers of drinking and driving, and creating family-friendly events that offer fun without alcohol.
The TRACC Coalition is by no means against alcohol consumption. We are strongly advocating RESPONSIBLE alcohol consumption. Binge drinking, underage drinking, drinking and driving – this is our focus.
A Youth Prevention Program was soon formed, specifically targeting underage drinking and youth education. To help with that area, Lacey Johnson came on board with TRACC as the Youth Prevention Coordinator, and she’s been researching youth alcohol consumption plus educating young people in the dangers of drinking alcohol – legally, emotionally, physically, and mentally. These young adults are coming out in groves in support of our Coalition. More kids than you realize need something like this. They are given a chance to be leaders in their communities and schools. They are given a chance to stand up for the laws and possibly save the life of a friend, classmate, or complete stranger.
When it comes to law enforcement, TRACC brought on Alvin Stevens to be the Criminal Justice Liaison. Mr. Alvin works side by side with local law enforcement to be the tie between them and the public. He helps keep track of DWI checkpoints in the parish, as well as keeps the law enforcement partners informed with problem areas, local events that may bring forth drinking and driving, and grants that can help their agencies. These agencies are our major support at TRACC. Without them, we would be fruitless in our efforts.
After the law enforcement agencies make arrests, Hannah Anderson steps in as the Diversion Coordinator to track prosecution and consequences for the individuals who have been charged with alcohol related offenses, such as driving while intoxicated, open container in a vehicle, or providing alcohol to an underage individual and minors in possession. Hannah makes sure that TRACC has the record of what happens after the arrests are made.
Most importantly, we have gained numerous volunteers to work with us as our voice in the communities of Tangipahoa Parish. There are numerous ways that concerned citizens can get involved with the Coalition. We have committees that may fit your interests, we have events to plan and work, and we would, above all, enjoy your company at our monthly Coalition meetings to hear your input and ideas that would help us help the parish. Our citizens are the ones who are immersed in our communities and we would love to have your feedback.
With youth volunteers, college organizations such as PEEPS, law enforcement task forces, concerned citizens and parents, and coalition membership made up of numerous health-related organizations, TRACC is making note-worthy headway in this parish. In 2008, a survey was taken of sixth, eighth, tenth, and twelfth graders in Tangipahoa Parish. From that survey came information that 155 sixth graders had self-reported to have had alcohol (their own drink, more than just a taste or sip) within the past year. In a survey of sixth graders in 2010, only 59 reported to have had alcohol in the past year, an 8.24 percent drop. That's a big leap for us! In 2008, 491 twelfth graders in Tangipahoa Parish had reported the same thing. In 2010, that number dropped to 355 twelfth graders, a 12.07 percent drop.
If you'd like to be involved in TRACC, we are always looking for volunteers for our various family friendly events. Send me an email to TRACC@tangipahoa.org, visit our website at www.tangitracc.org, or "Like" us on Facebook at www.facebook.com/TangiTRACC. On our Facebook you will find a "Leave A Tip" tab that can be used to report crimes directly to Crime Stoppers, who is also a Coalition member & a major part of our Coalition.