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Hidden in Plain Sight
Tarleton State University
Please briefly describe your Communities Talk activity.
We hosted an in-person and virtual learning opportunity for parents and educators in the Stephenville Independent School District (SISD). This event was co-sponsored by Star Council, a local substance abuse and prevention agency. Our talk consisted of education and conversations around vaping, alcohol, prevention, and action items related to substance use and misuse among adolescents. After the presentation, we did a walk-through for parents and educators in the SISD to see the hidden-in-plain-sight items using a virtual demonstration. Students from the Psychological Sciences Department at Tarleton State University participated in the event and demonstrated the items that could be used to conceal drugs or alcohol.
How does underage drinking and substance misuse affect your community?
We have had quite a few students who have been impacted by vaping, marijuana, and alcohol in the junior high and high school realm. The SISD wanted us to speak about vaping this time, and possibly add in other areas of concern at a future date. However, this initial presentation briefly touched on prescription drug use, alcohol, and vaping, related to the hidden-in-plain-sight items.
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
Who did you involve in your activity planning, and who did your activity impact?
Star Council and SISD were involved in the planning and execution of our event. Our event was intended for parents of junior high and high school students, counselors, administrators, coaches, and teachers in the public school system, and we were successful in reaching this audience.
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
- Communities Talk planning guides
- SAMSHA app - Talk They Hear You
Did the COVID-19 pandemic affect the planning or execution of your activities?
We would say that pre-pandemic times would have allowed more people to be physically present. Many people choose to participate in the online options when they are given, and we would have liked more parents to be physically present in order to see the hidden-in-plain-sight items. This would have allowed more face-to-face interactions for the students to engage with.
What other challenge(s) did you face in planning your activity this year?
- Unforeseen difficulties when planning our activity
- Inexperience hosting Communities Talk activities
- Adapting to conducting a virtual activity
- Change in organizational structure or staff
- Internal staffing changes
How did you overcome these challenges?
We have never hosted a Communities Talk activity, so this was all new for us. In the future, we will do a few more things to promote the event. We hosted this at 8 a.m., and this may or may not have affected our attendance. The SISD system thought that this would be beneficial for parents to attend right after drop-off, but this was not the case. In addition, our hidden-in-plain-sight demonstration is not the same in a virtual learning opportunity. We did have some face-to-face attendance, but it was pretty small overall.
What are your next steps?
- Host follow-up meetings or activities
- Expand our coalition with new partnerships in the community
- Create a public education campaign to raise awareness and/or change behaviors around underage drinking (i.e., create PSAs and other promotional materials)