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West Springfield Town Hall Meeting to Discuss the Impact of Underage Substance Use
West Springfield CARE Coalition
How does alcohol and other drug misuse affect your community?
Alcohol is the most used substance by youth in West Springfield according to our most recent student survey. On average, 23 percent of students reported drinking within the past 30 days. Youth also reported consuming alcohol at home with parental permission, and the ability to access alcohol at parties.
What challenge(s) did you face in planning your activity this year?
- Lack of interest from the community
- Inexperience hosting Communities Talk activities
How did you overcome these challenges?
We advertised the event on social media, recorded a segment on our local news channel, and secured placement in our local newspaper. Our local access station broadcast the event live and recorded it so community members could watch the event at their convenience, which helped increase our reach. To overcome inexperience hosting Communities Talk events, we utilized the resources made available on the SAMHSA website, particularly the toolkit.
What are your next steps?
- Expand our coalition with new partnerships in the community
- Conduct research efforts to learn more about issues in our community
- Create a public education campaign to raise awareness and/or change behaviors around underage drinking (i.e., create PSAs and other promotional materials)
Which Communities Talk resources (or other SAMHSA resources) were most helpful for your activity?
- Prevention-related webinars
- StopAlcoholAbuse.gov website
- Communities Talk website
- Communities Talk planning guides
- Communities Talk toolkits
- Communities Talk social media content (e.g., Facebook, Twitter)
- Communities Talk e-Alerts
How did a Communities Talk event help you address those issues?
- Mobilized coalition members or other stakeholders
- Engagement with local government leaders and business owners to consider policy changes such as social hosting laws or restaurant worker trainings
- Educated youth and parents
- Created an opportunity to share resources and practices with other community stakeholders
- Raised awareness of substance abuse and/or underage drinking issues in our community
How did your event make an impact on underage drinking in your community?
Our event featured a panel of local experts including law enforcement, substance use prevention and resource experts, representatives from higher education, and individuals with various first-hand experience, including one person who lost a loved one due to a driver who was under the influence of alcohol and one individual in recovery from an alcohol use disorder. Our panelists shared tips and resources for community members to take advantage of when faced with difficult questions and issues around alcohol use and youth.
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