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Small Talks Family Meal

Hosted by: Building A Safer Evansville

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Please briefly describe your Communities Talk activity.

For our 2021 Communities Talk event, we partnered with a local restaurant to provide Evansville parents with the tips and conversation skills necessary to talk with their kids about the impact of underage drinking. The “Small Talks Family Meal” happened in conjunction with Wisconsin Department of Health Services’ “Small Talks” campaign, where parents received informational handouts, signed a Pledge to Talk with their kids, and earned $20 off their meal for participating. The Communities Talk stipend allowed us to create and print advertising materials to distribute in schools and daycare centers, and we were able to create social media ads on Instagram and Facebook to reach our intended audience. We also created a post-event survey for our participants to fill out and tell us how their conversation at home went. This event reached 20 parents and over 30 youth in a single evening!

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How does underage drinking and substance misuse affect your community?

Following troubling results found in the 2009 Youth Risk Behavior Survey administered to students, three youth suicides, and a drunk driving accident, the Evansville community came together with Partners for Prevention Rock County to form Building a Safer Evansville (BASE). The survey revealed that an alarming number of Evansville High School students were misusing alcohol and drugs and had considered suicide. In the beginning, BASE focused on substance misuse prevention, education, and awareness, with the goal of lowering drug and alcohol misuse/use rates among youth in Evansville. The coalition found success by implementing curriculum, forming partnerships, advocating for prevention, and working with community partners to change policies and procedures. In the past 10 years, BASE has received federal and state grants to bolster its activities, becoming a trusted resource and change agent in Evansville. From Evansville Night Out and Shop with a Cop to Reality Maze, Medication Take Back Days, and QPR (Question. Persuade. Refer.) training for suicide prevention, BASE has proven to be a vital part of the Evansville community. BASE has also broadened its offerings, addressing the opioid crisis and the dangers of vaping while implementing diversity and inclusion initiatives, including Evansville’s first-ever LGBTQ+ Pride Month in 2020.

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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
  • Create new resources/materials (e.g., publications, handouts, factsheets, videos, graphics) to support prevention of underage drinking and misuse of other substances
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Who did you involve in your activity planning, and who did your activity impact?

BASE coalition members helped plan and implement our Small Talks Family Meal. Members of the Evansville Community School District were involved in promoting the event by handing out flyers at school and encouraging parents to attend. Business partners such as Rock’n Rollz Sandwich, Co., distributed flyers, hosted the meal, and encouraged parents to attend, while daycare centers across town had flyers sent home to parents and handed them out during child pickups. The intended audience was parents first, youth second. We provided parents with talking tips and other Small Talks resources to support them when talking to their kids about the dangers of underage drinking.

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Which Communities Talk resources (or other SAMHSA resources) were most helpful for your activity?

  • Communities Talk website
  • Communities Talk planning guides
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Did the COVID-19 pandemic affect the planning or execution of your activities?

No.

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

  • Needed additional resources to conduct activity
  • Lack of interest from the community
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How did you overcome these challenges?

To encourage attendance, BASE was able to use funds from another alcohol-focused grant and donations to cover the cost of food and enhance the Communities Talk event. Families in Evansville are engaged with what BASE is doing, but it’s very helpful when there are financially flexible opportunities available, such as a free meal or a chance to win a gift card. BASE partner Blue Devil Bowl also offered a free bowling night package as incentive for families to participate.

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What are your next steps?

  • Host follow-up meetings or activities
  • Support new prevention policies, legislation, or social ordinances
  • 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)

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