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CHOICES 2021 Youth Dialogue Day

Hosted by: Birmingham Bloomfield Community Coalition

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Please briefly describe your Communities Talk activity.

Through CHOICES Youth Dialogue Day, students were brought together to explore issues and to demonstrate just how a single choice can change their lives. Our event also featured a judge from the 48th Judicial District Court of Michigan who gave a live court session. According to the judge, “the students who observe the live court session witness the long-lasting effects that drunk driving and drug use have on the individual, their families and public safety.”

Following the court session, participants heard from two young speakers in recovery, starting with a certified prevention specialist and certified peer recovery mentor with the Alliance of Coalitions for Healthy Communities. She is a long-term recovery survivor from a substance use disorder and has been sharing her experience of addiction and recovery for over 6 years. Next, students heard the very impactful story of an 18-year-old student from Fight4Wellness and a recipient of a double lung transplant as a result of his vaping. He faced imminent death prior to receiving the gift of life with the first double lung transplant in the world from a vaping related illness on October 15, 2019.

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How does alcohol and other drug misuse affect your community?

Although not exclusively, underage drinking prevention has been a primary focus of the BBCC. Underage drinking is a top drug of choice among our students in the Birmingham Bloomfield community. By the time youth leave high school, most have used alcohol. Students in our community reported alcohol use at young ages. In fact, some of them used alcohol in dangerous amounts and some use alcohol frequently. In addition, our students reported that alcohol is easily accessible.

We bring CHOICES with live court to student in the community to demonstrate just how destructive and impulsive choice to use alcohol or drugs can be to their lives. In addition, it's important for teens to have a safe environment to discuss the pressures, stress, and anxiety they are dealing with. This includes balancing the intense pressures of life as a teen today: school, work, sports, clubs, family, faith, friendships, and the pandemic. Often, they are confronted with added pressures leading to some tough choices, especially those that involve alcohol or drugs.

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What goal(s) did you hope to accomplish with your Communities Talk activity?

  • Reduce prevalence of underage drinking and other substances in community
  • Create an ongoing conversation about underage drinking and substance use prevention in the community
  • Foster collaboration between community stakeholders for continued underage drinking and substance use prevention activities
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What challenge(s) did you face in planning your activity this year?

  • The pandemic was primarily the focus in the local media, therefore we were not able to be featured in local news, as in past years.
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How did you overcome these challenges?

We did the best we could and amped up our own promotions and social media. We had a really good turnout for this event with 80 participants from 6 schools.

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What are your next steps?

  • Host follow-up meetings or activities
  • Expand our coalition with new partnerships in the community
  • Conduct research efforts to learn more about issues in our community
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Which Communities Talk resources (or other SAMHSA resources) were most helpful for your activity?

  • Prevention-related webinars
  • StopAlcoholAbuse.gov website
  • StopAlcoholAbuse.gov What’s New email newsletter
  • Communities Talk website
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Who did you involve in your activity planning, and who did your activity impact?

BBCC and the Birmingham and Bloomfield Hills community Youth Action Board (YAB) students took the lead in planning and implementing CHOICES Youth Dialogue Day. We worked with the 48th District Court to bring the live court to a large student audience. We worked with the public and private schools to make sure each school has a diverse student representation. We also worked with the parent groups from the schools, community health and wellness, and youth serving organizations to ensure the right group of adults are present to hear importance of substance misuse and to support the students who are participating. We promoted quite heavily through email blasts, e-newsletters, on our website, in schools, social media and local news (if they were willing to include in their rotation).

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Did the COVID-19 pandemic affect the planning or execution of your activities?

Yes. Because of the pandemic, everything was virtual. Fortunately, we were already well set-up and adapted to virtual platforms. We were able to have the court proceedings (court, lawyers, and defendants) link into our virtual platform for the event.

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