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Group Photo Of 2023 EHDFC Strategic Planning Meeting

Building a Resilient East Hawai‘i: Insights and Strategies from the East Hawai‘i Drug-Free Coalition’s Community Assessment on Underage Drinking

In a proactive effort to enhance community safety and well-being, the East Hawai‘i Drug-Free Coalition embarked on completing a comprehensive six-month-long Community Needs Assessment (unscientific, self-reported and informal). This initiative aimed to examine local conditions contributing to underage drinking in East Hawai‘i. Through 1:1 Talk Story interviews, the coalition engaged with residents from Honoka‘a, Hilo, and lower and upper Puna areas to gain valuable insights into current concerns and desired changes within their communities.

Community Concerns

The data collected highlighted substance use – particularly youth vaping – as the leading concern, as identified by half of the interviewed residents. The desired changes expressed by the community members included increased accessibility to community and family activities and a greater emphasis on community engagement.

Youth Perspectives on Underage Drinking

In a Youth Listening Session involving nearly 50 participants from diverse groups across East Hawai‘i, insights into underage drinking among the youth were unveiled. The Listening Session reinforced the need to address issues regarding access to alcohol in homes.

Strategies and Initiatives

Empowered by these insights, the East Hawai‘i Drug-Free Coalition is actively formulating targeted strategies to address favorable parental attitudes, cultural norms, and alcohol accessibility. A coalition gathering on December 13, 2023, brought together key stakeholders, including education professionals, Salvation Army Family Intervention and Services, Vibrant Hawai‘i – Youth Ambassadors, the Office of the Prosecuting Attorney, Hawai‘i County Councilmembers and staff, Family Advocates, and community members, to determine effective strategies aimed at reducing youth access to alcohol.

The Path Forward

The coalition’s commitment to curbing underage drinking is evident in its efforts to decrease the culture of youth alcohol consumption and encourage positive stress relievers. A strategic planning meeting held on November 2, 2023,  at the University of Hawai‘i at Hilo, demonstrated collaboration between lawmakers and coalition members. 

Join Us in Building a Resilient Community

The East Hawai‘i Drug-Free Coalition invites all community members to actively participate in these initiatives. By working together, we can cultivate a community that promotes responsible attitudes toward alcohol and safeguards the well-being of our youth. Your involvement is crucial in building a resilient East Hawai‘i. For more information, contact East Hawai‘i Drug-Free Coalition Coordinator Sally Ancheta at

Sally Ancheta

Sally Ancheta

East Hawai‘i Drug-Free Coalition Coordinator
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