County’s substance abuse program wins federal award

The Ottawa County Health Department's C.H.O.O.S.E. program has been awarded the Science and Service Award by a federal agency.
Tribune Staff
Nov 17, 2011


The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, a division of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, presented the award last week. It recognizes the program’s implementation and success preventing substance abuse.  

Nationwide, only 11 organizations were presented with the award.

Stephanie VanDerKooi, coordinator for the Communities Helping Ottawa Obtain a Safe Environment program, said it began in 2004 after the Ottawa County Health Department documented a marked increase in alcohol involved traffic crashes.

After interventions, VanDerKooi said they have been able to demonstrate measurable outcomes in Ottawa County: the number of retailers who sold to minor decoys during a compliance check decreased from 11 percent in 2005 to 5 percent last year, the number of 12th-graders who reported they had been given alcohol from someone age 21 or older in the past year has decreased from 53 percent in 2007 to 40 percent in 2009, and the number of crashes by drivers ages 16-24 who had been drinking has dropped from 129 in 2004 to 82 last year.

More details about the C.H.O.O.S.E. initiatives are available at


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