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Laredo Youth...Let's F.A.C.E.! & Get Connected Webinar

Hosted by: WestCare Texas, Inc., Drug Free Communities (DFC) Family Assistance and Community Development Empowerment (F.A.C.E), and Gateway Community Health Center

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Please briefly describe your Communities Talk activity.

In recognition of Red Ribbon Week, The Laredo Youth...Let’s F.A.C.E.! & Get Connected webinar featured a variety of presentations that focused on preventing underage drinking and identifying local organization substance misuse services. There was also an opportunity for youth and families to get familiar with youth-serving organizations and learn about making healthy choices. Each presenter was offered an opportunity to discuss their topics and provided time for questions. WestCare Texas, Drug Free Communities Family Assistance, and Development Empowerment Coalition collaborated with Gateway Community Health Center to plan for the event and distributed paper flyers, along with digital flyers, throughout the Laredo community.

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How does underage drinking and substance misuse affect your community?

Our community of Laredo, Texas, is often battling with a high influx of drugs, and substances are easily accessible. Alcohol is the most widely misused substance in Laredo, and alcohol use disorders within the past decade. In summer 2021, a young student had a terrible accident while under the influence of alcohol and crashed into a tree. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the 2021 Communities Talk was a great way to approach students, families, schools, and professionals to remember the importance of underage drinking prevention and the consequences of substance misuse. The event had an array of excellent experts to share their knowledge.

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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
  • Improve policy/legislation (e.g., reducing alcohol advertising to which youth are exposed; instituting, promoting, or increasing alcohol compliance checks; improving
  • Awareness and enforcement of social host laws) to support prevention of underage drinking
  • Encourage community and local businesses to implement measures to prevent underage drinking (e.g., restricting or decreasing sales of alcohol at community events; conducting responsible beverage service training)
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Who did you involve in your activity planning, and who did your activity impact?

Our activity involved WestCare Texas Inc., Drug Free Communities Family Assistance, and Development Empowerment Coalition in collaboration with Gateway Community Health Center. We planned and recruited a panel of experts from the Laredo area. Our school and youth-serving organization sector representatives were facilitators. We had the youth-serving organization of Mid Rio Grande Area Health Education Center Student Ambassador and a 10th grade student from Harmony School of Excellence play the role of the facilitators. Our youth-serving organizations provided information on underage drinking prevention, substance abuse services, healthy choices, and the program itself. We disseminated flyers at schools, in coalition meetings, at clinics and community centers, and in digital format as well. The event was open to the public, and we focused on providing this important information in such a way that the public could join virtually.

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

  • Prevention-related webinars
  • Prevention videos, such as College Drinking: Prevention Perspectives
  • StopAlcoholAbuse.gov website
  • StopAlcoholAbuse.gov What’s New email newsletter
  • Communities Talk website
  • Communities Talk planning guides
  • Communities Talk toolkits
  • Communities Talk social media content (e.g., Facebook, Twitter)
  • Communities Talk Find an Activity Map
  • Communities Talk support staff
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Did the COVID-19 pandemic affect the planning or execution of your activities?

No, the COVID-19 pandemic did not affect the planning or execution of our activities.

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

  • Lack of interest from the community
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How did you overcome these challenges?

As we mentioned, our community has been battling with substance misuse, underage drinking, and alcohol misuse issues for years, and to some, it’s an inevitable problem, causing a lack of interest in our event. Despite those attitudes and the tendency of some to ignore these problems, we continue to educate the public and our youth to remind the community of the importance of underage drinking and substance misuse prevention.

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What are your next steps?

  • Host follow-up meetings or activities
  • Create new action groups to tackle specific issues raised during our Communities Talk activity
  • Expand our coalition with new partnerships in the community
  • 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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