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Friday Fun Night: Prevention Night
Utah State University
Please briefly describe your Communities Talk activity.
Here at USU Health Extension, we were able to partner with some amazing groups to make sure we emphasized the message of preventing underage drinking. Parents Empowered is a group in Utah that shares that message, and we also worked with the Riverton City parks and recreation department to address underage drinking and discuss how to talk within families about prevention.
During a Riverton City “Friday Fun Night” event, USU Extension was able to host a booth that educated community members on underage drinking prevention. More than 150 children, 50 teens, and 110 parents and adults visited the booth where we distributed flyers, played games that provided information on brain development, awarded prizes with prevention messaging, and gave out bottled water with labels that had links to the prevention messaging websites.
Additionally, our health promotion intern worked with Parents Empowered prior to the event to create a professional public service announcement (PSA) video, which was well received. This PSA premiered on a big screen before the outdoor movie began, and our intern addressed a crowd of more than 250 people to discuss the rates of underage drinking in Utah and how to talk with their families about prevention. Our collaboration, the PSA, and the community involvement and reception to our work made this an amazing event.
How does underage drinking and substance misuse affect your community?
According to the most recent Utah SHARP Survey, 5.5% of students in 6th through 12th grade in Utah have had alcohol in the past 30 days and 16.7% have tried alcohol in their lifetime. This is a large number of Utah adolescents participating in underage drinking. Parents Empowered, our partner for the event, emphasizes that alcohol can harm developing brains and futures and that children start forming opinions about alcohol as early as age 9. We wanted to emphasize that talking within communities and families is one of the best ways to prevent underage drinking.
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
Who did you involve in your activity planning, and who did your activity impact?
We worked with the Riverton City Parks and Recreation Department as well as Parents Empowered. Our intern talked with both organizations to ensure that a large audience would be present, that our message was clear, and that we created high-quality prevention messaging. Our intern also worked with Parents Empowered to write the script and produce the PSA video. Riverton City was able to provide the space and entertainment for the event. Local vendors also attended to bring in a larger crowd.
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
- The prevention videos helped us create a plan for our own PSA video. The Communities Talk website and Success Stories also helped us create a vision and motivated us to create a successful event.
Did the COVID-19 pandemic affect the planning or execution of your activities?
We had to ensure that our event was held outside with the ability to social distance. We had to abandon ideas of using an indoor movie theater or other indoor spaces. Ultimately, this outdoor park event worked great and was so fun. When at the booth, we also made sure to wear masks and asked the guests to socially distance, touch only what they were taking, and use hand sanitizer.
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?
Having the support from other communities was vital to the success of our event. Our booth and PSA video were high quality because of these partners and the added resources they provided. We made sure to establish partnerships early in the process of planning our Communities Talk event. We networked and reached out to organizations that we hoped would be interested, aligned with our goals, and were in our desired geographical area. Parents Empowered was able to provide prizes and the capability to create a professional PSA. Riverton City was able to provide the location and equipment needed for our event. We made sure to discuss the goals of our partners and our needs. We had to communicate effectively and collaborate as much as we could.
What are your next steps?
- Continue to support our community partners