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According to the Washington DC Department of Health, approximately one-fourth of all DC high school students begin drinking alcohol before the age of 13. Early alcohol use among DC high school students is associated with other risky behaviors, such as drinking and driving, marijuana use, sexual activity, and violence.

As sobering as these statistics are, thanks to the Harvard Family Research Project’s work, we also know that there is a direct correlation between youth participation in vetted Out of School Time programs and avoidance of these risky behaviors.

 In a city where only 25% of youth have access to any type of after-school enrichment programs, DC SCORES partners with The Foundation for Advancing Alcohol Responsibility for an essential two-pronged attack on underage drinking.  Support from The Foundation for Advancing Alcohol Responsibility was critical in our organization’s recent growth to meet the need of children without after-school programs. We went from serving 800 students in the spring of 2011 to serving over 1,450 this past fall.

 By incorporating Ask, Listen, Learn materials into daily after-school programming and special events, DC SCORES participants — though coming from some of the most at-risk populations in the city — are actually some of the least likely to indulge in underage drinking. Perhaps fifth grader Arlette says it best: “DC SCORES is important to me because I get to have fun, but also, I make healthy decisions because DC SCORES tells me to.  Then maybe, when I’m not at DC SCORES I can find better ways, and make up something that is healthy by myself!”

Cory Chimka

Program Director, DC Scores