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You Got the Power: The Power of Choice- A Virtual Townhall

Hosted by: Strengthening Families Building Communities

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Please briefly describe your Communities Talk activity.

This townhall was a virtual discussion led by community members, educators, and social workers/mental health therapists who discussed substance use prevention and mental health.

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How does underage drinking and substance misuse affect your community?

We have seen an increase in substance abuse in the community among youth for many reasons, but most recently this increase has been due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Because of” the pandemic, youth have found it difficult to cope with the stressors they have been challenged with (i.e., virtual school, mental health, family relationships). The breakout sessions for youth included “It’s Ok to Not Be Ok” that focused on expressing feelings and not being afraid to discuss depression and substance abuse prevention, and identifying future goals.

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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
  • Create new resources/materials (e.g., publications, handouts, factsheets, videos, graphics) to support prevention of underage drinking and misuse of other substances
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Who did you involve in your activity planning, and who did your activity impact?

Strengthening Families Building Communities, along with the West Baltimore Drug-Free Coalition, organized this community event for parents and youth.

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

  • Prevention-related webinars
  • StopAlcoholAbuse.gov website
  • Communities Talk website
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Did the COVID-19 pandemic affect the planning or execution of your activities?

We wanted to hold this event in the community for about 65 people; however, Maryland mandates due to the pandemic and concerns about spacing did not allow us to move forward with this plan. The event was held virtually.

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

  • Lack of interest from the community
  • The youth and family support was extremely low due to Zoom fatigue and because the event was held on a Saturday.
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How did you overcome these challenges?

We will continue to safely plan for community events with small groups and have monthly Zoom meetings that are open to the public.

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What are your next steps?

  • Host follow-up meetings or activities

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