About Us

What is the Washington Healthy Youth (WHY) Coalition?

The WHY Coalition, formerly known as the Washington Coalition to Reduce Underage Drinking (RUaD), is a partnership of 27 Washington State government agencies and organizations representing traffic safety, law enforcement, faith-based groups, education, public health, policy and rulemaking, and social services.  Our mission is to prevent and reduce underage alcohol and marijuana use.

The coalition co-chairs are Michael Langer with the Washington State Department of Social and Health Services (DSHS), and Mary Segawa with the Washington State Liquor and Cannabis Board.

How was the Washington Healthy Youth Coalition formed?

The Coalition was formed by a seven-member team who attended the 2005 National Meeting on Underage Drinking Prevention.  Leaders of key Washington agencies participated in the meeting and agreed to work together to reduce underage drinking. 

DSHS brought the agencies together as a coalition, and continues to support ongoing efforts at the state level and in communities to prevent underage drinking.  Since 1998, DSHS has administered federal Enforcing Underage Drinking Laws (EUDL) funding for community and statewide prevention programs and education campaigns.  

What Are Our Goals?

In 2014 the Coalition expanded its mission to address underage marijuana use, which is the second most common drug used by children and teens.  Our highest priority goal is to reduce the percentage of 10th graders who use alcohol and marijuana by 2017.   To achieve these goals, we support communities in changing the factors that contribute to underage alcohol and marijuana use: community laws and norms, availability of alcohol and marijuana, favorable attitudes among adults, and traumatic childhood experiences. 

We also implement statewide media campaigns to encourage parents to talk with their children and teens about the risks of alcohol and marijuana use, provide educational resources and support to community groups around the state, and support changes to state policies and laws to support healthy youth and communities.