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Voices for Recovery
Prevention and Advocacy, Ursinus College
Please briefly describe your Communities Talk activity.
We came together and celebrated the strength and beauty of living a sober lifestyle and learned how best to support friends or family in recovery. We opened with a student leader welcoming the crowd and sharing resources for support. Then she introduced a live performance from a local singer/songwriter in recovery, who performed two 30-minute sets with her guitar and powerful voice. Her story of strength and hope detailed her recovery journey. In between the two sets, we had two people share their stories and experiences with recovery. We ended with an open mic where everyone was invited to share their story through words, songs, music, dance, or whatever moved them. We followed that with a social hour with refreshments.
How does underage drinking and substance misuse affect your community?
While our alcohol misuse rates are matching the national rates and decreasing each year, we still see many students developing a lifelong substance use disorder while in college. We noticed students are affected by substances at a crucial age, as their brains are still in development when alcohol or other drugs are introduced in the college years.
What goal(s) did you hope to accomplish with your Communities Talk activity?
- 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
- Normalize healthy behaviors, including sobriety, for college aged students
Who did you involve in your activity planning, and who did your activity impact?
Our event was cosponsored by the Ursinus College Arts and Lecture Committee. The committee supports prevention activities, as well as artistic and intellectual life at Ursinus. Partnering with the Arts and Lecture Committee illustrated an interdisciplinary approach that enhances, enriches, and supports academic offerings and encourages a diversity of perspectives, opinions, and aesthetic pursuits. We ensured that the lectures and performances were available to the broader public and added a cultural and educational opportunity for the greater community. The audience was our campus community (students, faculty, staff) and the local community. Some parents of current sober students showed up, and local college friends supporting recovery attended as well. The planning, promotion, and coordination were all done by our office and the student group we work with, called UCrew: Ursinus Cultivating Respect Education and Wellness. This small group of students had a big impact on campus through this event.
Which Communities Talk resources (or other SAMHSA resources) were most helpful for your activity?
- Communities Talk planning guides
- Communities Talk toolkits
Did the COVID-19 pandemic affect the planning or execution of your activities?
We ensured that all participants and guests kept their masks on during the event.
What other challenge(s) did you face in planning your activity this year?
- Needed additional resources to conduct activity
How did you overcome these challenges?
Securing funding to complete the event was a challenge; however, we were able to secure additional funding from the Arts and Lecture Committee on campus.
What are your next steps?
- 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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