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Sober Tailgate

Hosted by: Youngstown State University Campus Recreation

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How does underage drinking and substance misuse affect your community?

To highlight the importance of underage drinking prevention in our community, we hosted a sober tailgate event during a Youngstown State University football game. Since tailgates are synonymous with drinking alcohol, it was our goal to offer this event to help students realize that they can still enjoy themselves in a college sporting event environment without drinking.

We incorporated fun activities like cornhole, frisbee toss, and football into the event. While students enjoyed those activities, we were able to hand out educational materials such as sobriety infographics; information on our campus services from our student counseling department and campus recreation; as well as flyers for upcoming events. We were also able to engage the students in a healthy dialogue using our “stick with sobriety” tri-fold presentation. This presentation tackled many misconceptions surrounding college-age drinking and struck a conversation on how to have fun while sober. These activities, coupled with the information, helped to inform and reinforce healthy lifestyle choices among students of all ages.

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How did a Communities Talk event help you address those issues?

  • Mobilized coalition members or other stakeholders
  • Educated youth and parents
  • Built community cohesiveness and support for our efforts
  • Helped plan future prevention efforts
  • Made making good health behavior choices fun and engaging
  • Raised awareness of substance abuse and/or underage drinking issues in our community
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Which Communities Talk resources (or other SAMHSA resources) were most helpful for your activity?

  • Prevention videos, such as College Drinking: Prevention Perspectives
  • Communities Talk website
  • Communities Talk planning guides
  • Communities Talk toolkits
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How did your event make an impact on underage drinking in your community?

Many students from all demographics filtered through our sober tailgate event, including many international students. We think the event was effective due to its welcoming atmosphere and the overall message that was presented. For international students especially, we were able to create a “home away from home,” with a sense of belonging (like what all students may search for during their collegiate journey). This event created that sense of community, gave students a place to gather with their friends, eat some food, and learn about other activities the campus offers them, while also being reminded of the benefits of sobriety. One young student from Pakistan expressed the need for more events like the Sober Tailgate—events that create a comfortable atmosphere of unity and friendship rather than something that endorses destructive, unhealthy behaviors.

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What other challenge(s) did you face in planning your activity this year?

  • Lack of interest from the community
  • Lack of awareness of our event or organization
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How did you overcome these challenges?

Many students from all demographics filtered through our sober tailgate event, including many international students. We think the event was effective due to its welcoming atmosphere and the overall message that was presented. For international students especially, we were able to create a “home away from home,” with a sense of belonging (like what all students may search for during their collegiate journey). This event created that sense of community, gave students a place to gather with their friends, eat some food, and learn about other activities the campus offers them, while also being reminded of the benefits of sobriety. One young student from Pakistan expressed the need for more events like the Sober Tailgate—events that create a comfortable atmosphere of unity and friendship rather than something that endorses destructive, unhealthy behaviors.

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What are your next steps?

  • Create new action groups to tackle specific issues raised during our Communities Talk activity
  • Support new prevention policies, legislation, or social ordinances
  • Conduct research efforts to learn more about issues in our community

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