Free to Grow Special Report: Wausau, Wisconsin

Free to Grow: Building Strength in America's Communities

This report by the Free to Grow National Program Office at the Mailman School of Public Health of Columbia University shows how the Wausau, Wis., Head Start/Free to Grow initiative, one of 15 FTG demonstration sites, combated alcohol abuse and strengthened families.

What do a child perched on a barstool, a drunk driver, teens drinking in an empty lot, and a Hmong family have in common? In the past, not much except some accidental proximity to drinking, driving, or living in this particular Wausau neighborhood.

Any number of organizations—the police, the courts, the schools, a drug treatment facility, the fire department, the city’s code enforcer, and agencies serving kids and families—might have interacted with the individuals involved in these snapshots.

Their involvement, though, would be geared mainly to the individual and the situation in front of them at that moment. They would not have seen these separate neighborhood residents and incidents as interwoven threads in a problem they all share: their community’s tolerance for alcohol.