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Festival of HOPE
Circle of Friends Youth Foundation
Please briefly describe your Communities Talk activity.
The Novi Community Coalition organized an event with multiple community resources for an afternoon of community engagement and information. We had a station with information on underage drinking as well as binge drinking. We handed out mocktails along with recipes to encourage attendees to enjoy fancy-looking drinks without consuming alcohol. Everyone who came by for a sample received a recipe book, a buzzed driving napkin, and an assortment of informational brochures and flyers. Since it was a very hot day, the station had many visitors. With so many partners, we were able to cover many different substances as well as physical and mental health resources. Additionally, we surveyed both parents and youth at the event and were able to compile what the community concerns were.
How does alcohol and other drug misuse affect your community?
With COVID-19, the schools have not completed the most current MiPhy survey. The Michigan Profile for Healthy Youth (MiPHY) is an online student health survey offered by the Michigan Departments of Education and Health and Human Services to support local and regional needs assessment. However, past reporting indicated that, while there hadn’t been an increase in substance use, the age for first-time use was getting lower. Similar statistics were found for tobacco, marijuana, and prescription medications.
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)
What challenge(s) did you face in planning your activity this year?
- Needed additional resources to conduct activity
- Lack of promotion/awareness of our activity or organization
- We had some volunteers unable to join the morning of the event. As we are still building awareness of our organization in the community, we weren’t able to find extra volunteers to fill those gaps, but those that were able to join us were amazing and worked very hard to make the event a success
How did you overcome these challenges?
This was our first large-scale event. We were able to get support from family members and our community partners. And once we started to promote it, we were overwhelmed with the number of partners who were interested in participating in the event, and we learned some lessons that will help us with future events.
Moving forward, we will make sure to have more volunteers signed up than we think we will need. We will need to have a better traffic block, as people were coming in the exit and missing some of the stations. One lesson learned is that we want to give ourselves a little more set-up time than we did this year.
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
- 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)
Which Communities Talk resources (or other SAMHSA resources) were most helpful for your activity?
- Prevention-related webinars
- StopAlcoholAbuse.gov website
- Communities Talk website
- Communities Talk planning guides
- Communities Talk toolkits
- We also distributed a lot of informational flyers and brochures provided by The Alliance of Coalitions of Healthy Communities.
Who did you involve in your activity planning, and who did your activity impact?
We reached out to the local community groups and just over 20 partners requested to participate. Aside from the prevention organizations that participated, we were able to provide Narcan (naloxone) training through one of our partners, and our local health department came out to provide COVID-19 vaccinations and boosters to those who qualified. Many youth were in attendance, as the event was open to the community. Youth also assisted with the planning and work during the event.
Did the COVID-19 pandemic affect the planning or execution of your activities?
Yes. We opted for an outside venue due to COVID-19 in an effort to raise attendance. We had masks and gloves available for anyone who wanted them. We also made sure to space all of the stations far enough apart to encourage social distancing with the attendees.