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Halloween Book Walk

Hosted by: The Leeward Initiative coalition, Great Start Collaborative

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Please briefly describe your Communities Talk activity.

In collaboration with the local Great Start Collaborative, our coalition (The Leeward Initiative) hosted an in-person book walk event at a local walking trail. At the event, we distributed underage drinking and substance misuse prevention materials and engaged participants in a brief survey to assess what types of events and activities families would like to experience in the local community. Coalition volunteers were stationed at different spots along the walking trail and engaged families in fun, interactive activities aligned with the Halloween theme of the book, “There was an Old Lady Who Swallowed a Bat.” A link to the event can be found on Facebook.

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How does underage drinking and substance misuse affect your community?

Underage drinking in Mason County, MI, has become a growing concern for parents in the community and among those working in prevention and treatment, particularly as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic and the isolation this experience has brought. According to the most recent findings from the Michigan Profile for Healthy Youth (MiPHY) survey, 52% of high school students report that it is easy to get alcohol, and 45.5% reported having ever drank alcohol. The average age for first consuming alcohol in Mason County is 12.7 (MiPHY, 2019-2020).

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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
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Who did you involve in your activity planning, and who did your activity impact?

For this event, our coalition collaborated with the local Great Start Collaborative in all aspects of planning and implementation. Volunteers (both parents and students) were recruited from local schools. A local business (Lakeside Weiner Wagon) provided meals for the event. The intended audience for this event was families with young and preteen children. A Facebook event was created and promoted to inform families about the event. A total of 4.068 people were reached through promotions on social media, including 99 people who used the Facebook event page to RSVP for the event. A total of approximately 125 people (including children) ended up participating in the event.

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

We decided to host an outdoor activity and to be mindful of social distancing for this event. We also decided that the best way to reach families with information was through distribution of pre-packaged toolkits of information, rather than hosting a standalone prevention or educational activity

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How did you overcome these challenges?

To ensure participation of the event, we paid for boosted posts on Facebook, which increased our social media reach. We also raffled off a “family fun bag” to participants of the event, which included both underage drinking and substance misuse prevention materials (e.g., lockable medication bag) and resources to engage families in positive activities. These efforts helped to ensure that we had attendance at the event, but also that the event was enjoyable and stress-free for families. All families that participated in the event also received a ticket to use at a food truck, which provided meals for the families. Families also received literacy resources.

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What are your next steps?

  • Host follow-up meetings or activities
  • Expand our coalition with new partnerships in the community
  • 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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