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Virtual Town Hall Talk

Hosted by: Jackson State University Metro Jackson Community Prevention Coalition

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Please briefly describe your Communities Talk activity.

We conducted a virtual Town Hall Talk with local high school students, law enforcement, and prevention professionals to discuss the dangers of underage drinking among youth in our community via Zoom. Lanier High School and Provine High School students attended the event.

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How does underage drinking and substance misuse affect your community?

The city of Jackson, Mississippi struggles with a high rate of unemployment, increasing crime rates, and low educational performance in schools, with many students receiving D or F grades (Mississippi Department of Education Accountability Data, 2019–2020). In addition, approximately 30% of Mississippi public high school students report currently drinking alcohol and 10% report binge drinking.

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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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Who did you involve in your activity planning, and who did your activity impact?

MJCPC hosted a panel discussion via Zoom in collaboration with various community leaders. We invited representatives from our local high schools, law enforcement personnel, and prevention professionals to speak on how best to target our general community members and our youth. Our panelists included leaders across community sectors, including:

  • A training specialist from the Mississippi Public Health Institute
  • A detective from the Jackson Police Department
  • A senior leader from Marvellous Works, Inc.
  • A senior leader from the National Council on Alcoholism and Drug Dependence of the Central Mississippi Area, Inc.
  • A recording artist/producer/songwriter from 5th Child Music, LLC
  • A senior leader from The Toolbox, Inc.
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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 support staff
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Did the COVID-19 pandemic affect the planning or execution of your activities?

To adhere to COVID-19 restrictions, we had to conduct the event via Zoom.

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How did your event make an impact on underage drinking in your community?

JSU MJCPC conducted the Virtual Underage Drinking Prevention Town Hall Meeting with two local high schools Lanier and Provine High School to discuss the dangers and the effects of underage drinking. During this event, MJCPC had an array of prevention specialists, motivation speakers, and professional entertainers on the panel. Lanier and Provine's students asked questions regarding the effects of underage drinking and the laws that relate to underage drinking.
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What other challenge(s) did you face in planning your activity this year?

  • Unforeseen difficulties when planning our activity
  • Adapting to conducting a virtual activity
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How did you overcome these challenges?

Due to COVID-19 restrictions, we had to conduct the event virtually instead of in person. As a result, we created a Zoom link for the prevention guest panelists, students, and community members to join instead of trying to find a way for people to safely gather in person.

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What are your next steps?

  • Expand our coalition with new partnerships in the community
  • Support new prevention policies, legislation, or social ordinances
  • Create a public education campaign to raise awareness and/or change behaviors around underage drinking (i.e., create PSAs and other promotional materials)

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