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Community Health Council of Lebanon County
Please briefly describe your Communities Talk activity.
CHC created a health promotion campaign to celebrate local youth’s dedication not to drink. Students from five school districts helped develop #IdRatherBe—a social norming and prevention platform that highlights what local students would rather be doing than drinking. The campaign, funded by a grant from the Pennsylvania Liquor Control Board, features nine high schoolers and includes a 30-second video, social media handles and posts, billboards, and posters. #IdRatherBe messaging continues to appear.The prevention platform is adaptable and can be used to support future health promotion projects. One of the project’s most critical aspects was including local students throughout the entire creative process. You can read more, check out the video, and view the posters at www.IdRatherBe.org and www.communityhealthcouncil.com/idratherbe.
How does alcohol and other drug misuse affect your community?
Lebanon County, Pennsylvania, is one of the fastest growing counties in the state. It is composed of six diverse public-school districts. According to 2019 Pennsylvania Youth Survey data, our students struggle with substance misuse—especially vaping. Mental health is another rising concern among our youth, especially in a post-COVID-19 environment.
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
- Awareness and enforcement of social host laws) to support prevention of underage drinking
What challenge(s) did you face in planning your activity this year?
- Adapting to conducting a virtual activity
- When we began the project, we were still in the initial stages of the pandemic, so figuring out how to get anything done was a bit challenging!
How did you overcome these challenges?
We moved to online meetings when necessary and communicated via email (instead of in person). Students were particularly good about texting updates, given that we could not meet at their schools. Our production partners were flexible with scheduling so that we could safely accommodate the kids in person when necessary.
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
- Create a public education campaign to raise awareness and/or change behaviors around underage drinking (i.e., create PSAs and other promotional materials)
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
- Communities Talk social media content (e.g., Facebook, Twitter)
Who did you involve in your activity planning, and who did your activity impact?
Lebanon County students participated in all aspects of creating the #IdRatherBe health promotional campaign, from focus groups (to understand the issue of underage drinking in our area), to naming/branding the campaign, to starring in all the promotional materials (i.e., video, billboards, posters, posts). We collaborated with other partners on the project, such as school administrators, local health education coalitions, and production firms. The intended audience was the entire community, especially other teens.
Did the COVID-19 pandemic affect the planning or execution of your activities?
Yes. When we began the project, all schools were offering remote learning. It was challenging, but we adapted by using Zoom for meetings, when feasible. When we had to meet in person, we used standard prevention measures like social distancing and masking.