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Planning is critical to the success of any event because the way in which an event is designed helps determine whether its objectives will be met. An assessment will guide Town Hall Meeting organizers in identifying priority issues around underage drinking that should be addressed during the event. Determining meeting logistics, speakers, and ways to achieve meeting objectives are next steps.

Event Timing

A key element of planning is the right timing of the Town Hall Meeting. This is true in terms of audience appeal and attendance as well as in gaining media attention. The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) is encouraging organizers to hold their events between March and May. This time period is optimal because:

  • April is Alcohol Awareness Month;
  • SAMHSA's National Prevention Week occurs May 18-24, 2014 (Underage Drinking Prevention Day is May 19); and
  • Parents need to know that (1) June and July are two of the three highest months of alcohol use initiation by children under age 18 and (2) by talking with their children now, they have the power to help their children remain alcohol free.

Building on national observances helps build momentum around a national dialogue about prevention. Appealing to parents and other influential adults during times of higher risk of alcohol use and consequences (e.g., spring break, prom, and beach week) increases the sense of urgency in addressing these problems.

Planning Tools

The following free materials can help you organize essential details and host an effective, smooth-running event:

  • Facilitator Guidelines (PDF 134 KB) offers guidance on maintaining event focus;
  • Planning Contact List (XLS 61 KB) is a customizable spreadsheet to track planning committee volunteers, sponsors and partners, VIPs and speakers, and media representatives; and
  • Proven Prevention describes evidence-based approaches to underage drinking prevention.

The following guide is based on The Surgeon General’s Call to Action To Prevent and Reduce Underage Drinking. The guide, in English and Spanish, explains why and how communities should take action against underage drinking: