The Truth about Youth… Alcohol Use

IMG_3373 (1)On any given Friday during the school year, social media lights up about the upcoming weekend events and parties. Word spreads quickly and plans are excitedly made.  

On Monday, stories are told of where students went over the weekend and what they did. Often the stories that are perpetuated are the ones where there were drinking and wild, dangerous or, at best, sketchy things that happened. Because these are the stories that tend to be repeated over and over, it often is perceived that “everyone” was there and “everyone” was drinking. 

Misperceptions are created through these types of stories. Teens actually think that most of their peers party and drink. Teens who do not drink alcohol often start drinking because they feel pressured to fit in with what they think is the norm. This is why it is so important that everyone knows that MOST teens in Gwinnett County do NOT drink alcohol. In the latest youth survey conducted in Gwinnett, only 19% of 9-12th grade students reported that they drank alcohol in the last 30 days. 

These misperceptions are not just among students. In a recent survey conducted among parents and other adults in Gwinnett, 75% of the respondents believed that a majority of teens in the county had a drink of alcohol in the last 30 days. This means that parents and other adults believe that a LOT more teens are drinking than really are. They also believe that most parents of teens let them drink at home and allow them to go to parties where alcohol will be served. The fact is that among the teens in Gwinnett who drank in the past month, only about half of them said their parents allowed them to drink at home. That means that about 90% of the teens in Gwinnett have parents who do NOT let them drink at home. Parents and other adults should know that the norm in Gwinnett is NOT allowing underage drinking.

While this is good news, it’s important to note that youth who drink usually do so at their homes or at the homes of friends. These parents may believe that allowing their teens to drink at home will result in more responsible, lower risk drinking behaviors. The opposite is true. It actually encourages alcohol use. Research shows that allowing adolescents to drink alcohol under adult supervision leads to more drinking and more alcohol-related consequences. 

We all need to share the truth about youth and alcohol use. The majority of our youth choose NOT to drink alcohol, and MOST parents do not allow their teens to drink at home and/or go to parties where alcohol is served. To those parents, we say a big THANK YOU… for being parents and NOT bartenders!

By getting the word out, we can correct the misperceptions that lead some teens to feel that they have to drink to fit in and make some parents think they have to allow it.

Interested in prevention and want to get involved? Check out what GUIDE is doing for Red Ribbon Week 2014 and join the action: http://bit.ly/31daysofred.

Get Rid of Germs!

Inspired_Issue_7_GCP&RAs cooler weather moves in and we get closer to cold and flu season, there are a number of ways you can create fewer germ-friendly places in your day. Utilizing these tips can keep you and your family from getting sick this fall.

Check out this issue of Inspired for ideas on eliminating germs in your environment. Click here or on the image to read this issue.

Join GUIDE in Celebrating Red Ribbon Week 2014

Paint GA RedSave the date! Red Ribbon Week is right around the corner, from October 23-31. Year after year we celebrate this special campaign to share with our peers and community the significance of being drug free. The National Red Ribbon Campaign serves as a catalyst to mobilize communities to educate youth and encourage participation in drug prevention activities. We at GUIDE are REALLY excited for Red Ribbon Week this year, and we hope you will show your support of a drug-free lifestyle and join in on the fun activities we have planned.

In 2014, GUIDE plans to celebrate Red Ribbon Week all month long. For the whole month of October, we are celebrating by implementing our brand new campaign, Paint Georgia Red. The premise of the campaign is to get as many people as possible to represent their communities across the state of Georgia and tell us why they choose to wear red and be drug free. Using #31daysofred, we are asking YOU to post a photo of yourself on social media (Instagram, Twitter or Facebook) wearing red somewhere in your local community. You should tell us your name, where you are located and why you choose to be drug free. Please tag us (@guidegti on Twitter and Instagtam and @GUIDE, Inc. on Facebook) in your post and don’t forget to use #31daysofred — that’s the only way to ensure we will see your photos! If you aren’t on social media and still want to participate, please email your photo and description to socialmedia@guideinc.org.

By the end of the campaign, we hope to have painted Georgia red by having as many counties and cities of Georgia represented with their drug-free support.

Here are some examples of what we are looking for:

photo 2 (27)Mandee Jablonski at Marietta Middle School in Marietta, GA – I wear red because I want my students to be the best they can be and always be drug free! #31daysofred

photo 1 (31)Elliott Walker in Smyrna, GA (Cobb County) – I wear red because I have so many lives to influence inside the classroom. #31daysofred

Wait! That’s not all! If you participate and provide all of the required information, you will be entered to win a pair of red Beats by Dre headphones AND $250 for your school, Youth Action Team or other organization that supports prevention. The winner will be chosen via a random drawing on Monday, November 3, 2014. Each complete entry will earn you a chance to win! We are accepting entries October 1-31. Scout out your locations, get your red gear together and start thinking about why you’re drug free. Have fun!

If you have any questions about the Paint Georgia Red campaign or the contest, please email us at socialmedia@guideinc.org.

Want to join GUIDE for other Red Ribbon Week activities? We will be hosting Walk the Talk events at parks around Gwinnett County all month long. In addition to seeing us and getting some great exercise, we will talk about various prevention-related topics in honor of Red Ribbon Week. Check out our schedule here. We hope to see you there!

6 Ways Your Youth Action Team Can Celebrate Red Ribbon Week

Is your Youth Action Team looking for a way to celebrate Red Ribbon Week 2014? A great way to celebrate Red Ribbon Week (October 23-31) is by utilizing the Be Red Campaign. The goal of Be Red is to take a stand for being alcohol, tobacco and other drug free and to highlight substance abuse prevention efforts in schools and communities. The Be Red campaign is modeled after a youth-driven media awareness campaign, I Wear Red: Bringing Youth Voice to Action, developed by the Oregon Partnership YouthLink Program.

Below are some quick and easy ways to get you going with your Be Red campaign:

  1. 1383946_685989984744338_780485780_n (1)Red Bs: Make or purchase a variety of Bs and paint them red. Hobby Lobby, Michaels and JoAnn Fabrics sell paper, wood and plastic letters in unique sizes and fonts. You can also use different fonts on your computer to print out different versions of the letter B in red or print the Bs on red paper and cut them out. You can draw them free-hand on red construction paper or poster board. Post these Bs all over school and/or the community.
  2. Be Red Scavenger Hunt: Partner with your local newspaper or radio station to publicize a scavenger hunt. During Red Ribbon Week, have participants locate as many red Bs as they can.  They are not to remove or move them in any way, but they need to describe where each B was found. At the end of the week, those who found the most can win a prize or be enetered in a drawing for a prize. This can also be done on a school level instead of a community level.
  3. ElliotBe Red Photos: Recruit team members, family, friends and local public figures to pose around your school or community holding or wearing something red. The picture could be taken with a red letter B, a red t-shirt, red shoes, etc. Ask them to complete the sentence “I wear Red because…” on a small whiteboard. Possible sentence completions could be “I wear Red so my family doesn’t have to experience addiction.” “I wear Red so no one drives drunk anymore.” “I wear Red to be the best athlete I can be.” “I wear Red to do the best in school.” Take their pictures with these messages. If you know how to make the photo black and white with just the red object in color, this is a great technique to emphasize the red. Post these pictures throughout your school and/or community. You can also add them to a blog, Facebook, Twitter or Instagram.
  4. Be Red Balloons: Purchase giant white helium balloons at Party City or similar store. With a red Sharpie marker, write BE RED… in large letters so it can be seen from all angles. Have these balloons in different areas of the school or during a community event with several red Sharpies available so people can write their Be Red sentence on the balloon. The goal is to fill each balloon with as many sentences as possible, so by the end, they almost look totally red.
  5. Be Red Photo Booth: Paint several large frames red. Gather a variety of red props (hats, sunglasses, beads, shoes, etc.). Use small whiteboards and red dry erase markers for participants to finish the sentence “I wear Red because…” Take their picture holding their sign, wearing red, framed by a red frame.
  6. IMG_4138Public Awareness: See if government agencies, businesses, churches, schools, etc. would allow you to post Be Red photos around their buildings in common areas or high traffic areas. Some good places are City Hall, local restaurants, playing fields and grocery stores. Get your local newspaper or other media outlet to publicize the campaign, and ask community members to participate.

There are several fun and unique ways to share the Be Red message in your community! What are some ideas you have for promoting Red Ribbon Week throughout Georgia?

How to Request a Red Ribbon Week Proclamation

With Red Ribbon Week just around the corner, you may be wondering what great project your Youth Action Team or organization can do. 

You can request a Red Ribbon Week Proclamation for your community!

IMG_0115A proclamation is an official designation of an event. Proclamations are a very good way to educate the public about a specific issue and bring attention to a cause. A proclamation is an effective tool for gaining public recognition of your event because it carries the full support of a key government official in your state or community. 

Just follow these 5 steps:

*Make sure you start the process several weeks ahead of the event. 

STEP 1: Contact the State or Local Government Office

Governors, county executives, mayors, state legislatures, municipalities, counties, cities or towns can issue proclamations. For city proclamations, a mayor, city manager or city marshal may be the person to sign. For counties, it will most likely be the county commissioners. You do not have to have both the city and county proclamations—you can decide which entity in your community would reach more people. 

Determine whether you would like to request a proclamation from your city, county or state and locate the website for this entity. On the website, you may find a tab called “Ceremonial” or “Forms,” under which the proclamation request guidelines may be located. Otherwise, use the site’s search feature and type in the word “proclamation.” Another option is the “Contact Us” link. This area may allow you to write a brief message such as: 

How do I ask the Mayor to issue a proclamation declaring [date] as the following event [event name]? (e.g., October 23-31, 2014 as Red Ribbon Week?) 

In addition to seeking the guidelines for requesting a proclamation, be sure to inquire about the preferred format. This information will allow you to begin to draft an effective proclamation. 

STEP 2: Draft Your Proclamation  

There are two styles to choose from when writing your proclamation: traditional and modern. They differ in format; however, the ultimate purpose is the same, and they are equally effective. While the traditional format is the most frequently used, be sure to clarify which style is preferred with your local official in advance of drafting your proclamation. 

Traditional proclamations begin with a series of statements starting with the words “whereas,” meaning because, “inasmuch,” or “since.” Each clause states the problem or issue being addressed and is followed by a concluding phrase beginning with “therefore,” which specifically requests the support or action needed. Modern proclamations are written in a letter format.

A sample of a traditional proclamation is provided here in order to assist you with drafting your proclamation. Modify this sample proclamation by inserting information about the nature of the issue in your community and local statistics.

Follow the guidelines you receive from your government office. Be prepared to have an electronic version of your proclamation available. Most offices will print the proclamation on official letterhead or certificate paper so sending them an electronic version is usually requested.

STEP 3: Follow the Guidelines for Submitting a Proclamation Request  

Each city, county and state will have their own guidelines and procedures for signing proclamations. The easiest way to research your city, county or state’s guidelines is to look on its website and search for the term “proclamation.” Some of the larger cities and counties will have proclamation guidelines listed. Smaller cities and counties may provide contact information on the website to call or email for proclamation information. 

Oftentimes a cover letter requesting the proclamation is required. Find a sample cover letter written to a city, county or state’s government office in request of a proclamation here. 

In order to expedite the proclamation in a timely manner, the following information is usually required when submitting a proclamation request:

  • A draft text of the proclamation in the preferred format
  • The purpose of the proclamation (e.g., Red Ribbon Week)
  • The date when the proclamation is needed
  • A brief history of your organization
  • The name and daytime telephone number/email address of the contact person

STEP 4: Allow Enough Time  

The wheels of government turn slowly, so be sure to begin the proclamation request process at least three months in advance or as soon as possible. Timing is key if you want to be able to have the proclamation announced at a city council or county commissioner meeting. You may be required to send a copy of the proclamation to these representatives two to three weeks ahead of the meeting. Keep in mind that some legislatures are not in session during the summer (particularly in August), so you may need to build in extra time to find a local official who can sign your proclamation. Do not hesitate to follow up and check the status of your proclamation and offer to provide any additional information the official may need. 

STEP 5: Make an Event Out of It!

photo 3 (4) (1)Again, follow the guidelines that you are given as to whom (and how many) you can bring to the proclamation meeting or signing event. Notify your local paper or media outlets about the proclamation. Distribute printed copies to local reporters. Have the proclamation photo-enlarged for display at a news conference and/or in a prominent public place. Send copies to local newspapers. As with any media piece, demonstrate its importance to the media’s audience by including local statistics.

Georgia School of Addiction Studies: A Recap of Our Week in Savannah

IMG_2795The 8th Annual Georgia School of Addiction Studies (GSAS) was held August 25-29, 2014 at the Hyatt Regency in Savannah. The theme, “Unleashing the Power: Prevention, Treatment, and Recovery” speaks to the power we each have in our field to make a difference in the lives of those we serve.  This annual conference brings together professionals in the prevention, treatment and recovery fields and provides GUIDE  staff the opportunity to reconnect with old friends and meet newcomers in the prevention field while attending sessions designed to share the most recent research and most impactful strategies for creating change in our communities. For the 8th consecutive year, GUIDE staff members participated in the conference in a number of ways and were grateful for the opportunity to attend.

Ari Russell serves on the GSAS Board of Directors as a representative from the Prevention Credentialing Consortium of Georgia (PCCG). She is an active member and arrived in Savannah early to assemble participant packets, set up registration tables and prepare for the conference. Ari was also part of the contingent of GUIDE workshops offered during the conference. Ari facilitated both the 6 hour Ethics in the Prevention Field and the 3 hour Ethics for Recertification courses as well as co-facilitated a workshop on writing a Drug Free Communities grant with Ellen Gerstein of the Gwinnett Coalition.

GUIDE082014_021In addition to the three workshops Ari led, GUIDE’s Associate Director Jessica Andrews-Wilson taught four workshops over the course of the five day conference. Jessica facilitated two 3 hour workshops, Youth Voice and Choice in Prevention Programming and One Campaign, Many Messages: How to Turn Your Prevention Campaign into Social Media Content, and two 6 hour workshops for prevention professionals seeking PCCG credits, Cultural Competency and Communication Skills. All of the workshops GUIDE offered were met with praise for their engagement, meaningful activities and high-quality content.

IMG_2911While Ari and Jessica were busy teaching, other GUIDE staff including Mahuli Jakubek, Molly Vance and Sarah Stokes attended multiple sessions, learning and gathering information to bring back to influence the work we are engaged in around Gwinnett County. These staff members attended workshops by renowned speakers including Mike Nerney and Merrill Norton and learned more about the effectiveness of underage drinking laws, the impact of underage drinking on adolescent development, latest research regarding marijuana and heroin and how to get more involved in prescription drug abuse prevention. As always, the information shared at GSAS will benefit not only our staff, but our entire community as we share the new knowledge we gained.

photo (8)Georgia Teen Institute (GTI) had a special part of GSAS with an exhibit to promote our summer conference, recruit new youth action teams and volunteers and sell our Caboodle and Commonality Cards. Our staff took turns staffing the exhibit and talking with conference participants about opportunities to engage with us through GTI. We are always excited to share our passion for GTI with others – and were thrilled that several participants bought some cards to use within their own programs!

GUIDE082014_077Thursday was an important day during the conference. Celebrated as “Prevention Day” each year, Thursday features the Prevention Awards Luncheon where several valuable individuals are recognized each year. 2014 marked the first time a youth award was given, and we are proud to announce that the recipient of the first annual Youth Ambassador Award was our very own Josselyn Garcia! Recognized for her dedication to prevention and her diligent and meaningful work in her high school and across Gwinnett County, Josselyn was presented the award in front of the crowd of prevention professionals, beaming GUIDE staff members and her parents. The Georgia Department of Behavioral Health and Developmental Disabilities (DBHDD) also honored Ari with an award for her Extraordinary Contribution to Prevention to celebrate her 28 years of leading GUIDE and the field of prevention in Georgia. Jessica was invited to share highlights of Ari’s work and our staff were thrilled that we pulled off the surprise of this award! On Thursday evening, Ari and Jessica conducted business as they participated in the PCCG Meeting and then conducted one of three interviews for people applying to receive credentials as Certified Preventionists. One of the other interviewees was our newest Program Specialist, Molly Vance. When Molly receives her credentials later this month, GUIDE will again be one of only a couple of agencies where all program staff  are credentialed!

As always, we left Savannah thankful for a week of connecting, learning and growing and renewed in our passion for prevention and proud of our contributions to the conference and the recognition our team received. We are already looking forward to the 2015 conference!

Team Building Activity: Balloon Tower

Balloon Tower

RUS_2777Are you looking for a fun and engaging team building activity to do with your group? Look no further than Balloon Tower! We love to do this activity to encourage teamwork and discuss conquering challenges. We would love to hear how you use it, too!

Objective: Use a bag of balloons and roll of masking tape to build the tallest freestanding tower possible in the time allotted.

Time Needed:  20-30 minutes

Group Size:  Any, split into teams of 4-6 people

Materials (per team):

  • 1 bag of balloons
  • 1 roll of masking tape

RUS_2797Directions:  If your group is larger than 6, split into smaller teams.  Give each team a bag of balloons and a roll of tape.  Challenge the teams to make the tallest freestanding tower they can using only the balloons and tape. 

Allow four minutes of brainstorming and planning. When you say “Go!” the tower building can begin. 

Let the teams build for 10 minutes, giving time announcements at five minutes, two minutes and one minute remaining. At the end, whichever team has the tallest freestanding tower is the winner. 

Congratulate all teams for creating such tall towers.

RUS_2791Variations:

You can make it more difficult by allowing the teams to brainstorm and plan for four minutes and then not allowing them to talk while they are building.

 

Debrief Questions:

  1. What worked for your group? What didn’t? How did you know?
  2. What was challenging? How did you deal with those challenges?
  3. How do you feel about your finished tower?
  4. How is this activity like working on your project with your team?