Successful Programming for National Collegiate Alcohol Awareness Week


BACCHUS Initiatives Staff

October 7, 2016

National Collegiate Alcohol Awareness Week (NCAAW) is the third full week in October, this year October 16 – 22. Though we certainly hope your campus engages in comprehensive alcohol abuse prevention efforts year-round, NCAAW is a good time to create focused programs to help reinforce healthy messages. Set realistic goals for your events, know your audience, and create evaluation measures to help inform future efforts.

Making NCAAW Unique
Bringing together the key players on campus, brainstorming creative themes, and taking advantage of the national media available during October are all key items to the success of NCAAW on your campus. Below are four suggestions for your group to consider as you plan your programming schedule.

1. Balance educational and social programs.
Some of your NCAAW goals may include teaching people new information about personal health issues, promoting responsible decision-making, encouraging people to look at personal behaviors, and offering opportunities to choose healthy lifestyles—lifestyles grounded in moderation and the acceptance of personal responsibility for actions. It is also important to give participants a chance to have a good time, meet new people, dance, laugh, and enjoy themselves. The best NCAAW programming mixes serious information and effective strategies with plain old-fashioned fun. Make sure your programs serve a variety of goals, from offering social alternatives, to providing education and skill building, to simply thinking about an issue in a creative, unexpected way.

2. Don’t fall for the “numbers” game.
We all want our educational and social programming to be a big hit. We also want high attendance at our events. However, your efforts cannot be judged solely on the number of people. Some of your programs, especially those dealing with serious educational issues, like “Adult Children of Alcoholics” or “Preventing Sexual Violence” may only draw 20–30 people. But those 20–30 people will really want to be there, and they will be happy this event was planned for them. So, as you are planning your programs, keep three important goals in mind:

  • Go where your audience is. Do not make them come to you. It is much easier for people to attend a program “on their own turf” in places such as: residence halls, fraternity and sorority houses, campus student lounges, or outside high traffic areas. Here is a new idea: have students host programs in their rooms! If 10 people come to a session, you can throw pillows on the floor, make some microwave popcorn and suddenly your program is packed! This is a great environment for students to talk and feel comfortable.
  • Plan social programs on Thursday, Friday, or Saturday nights. Now you have provided a choice for those students who want to have a great time on the weekend, but do not want to go to bars or off-campus parties.
  • Set reasonable expectations, and plan your space appropriately. Having 40 people at a dance can make for a great party! But remember 40 people in a smaller room will be more fun than 40 people in a gymnasium. Set reasonable expectations. If they are exceeded, great! You will know to plan for a bigger turnout next year. Students do not mind cozy (even cramped!) settings, so make sure your space is appropriate for a modest turnout at any event.

3. Some people like to get information, but do not want to have to “talk to anybody.”
For students who do not have much information about how alcohol works, what addiction is, how to help someone with a drinking problem, family issues, etc., it can be helpful to host an informational table. To meet varying needs, set up a display table in a well-traveled area and provide pamphlets and other educational materials. Set up a DVD at a high-visibility location, turn it on, and let it run for an afternoon, showing an information tape on addiction or helping a friend. Hook up voicemail to a campus extension and provide educational outgoing messages. Have a special “this week only” hotline or email that people can call to ask their questions about alcohol.

While some people might not want to talk at this time, it is important to advertise available resources. NCAAW is a great time to promote services that are available all year. List the extension and email of the counseling center or peer education office on all the materials you hand out or post.

If you need pamphlets or other materials, check out the BACCHUS Store.

4. You do not have to be the expert, and you do not have to do the programs yourself. Use your resources!
Co-programming and co-sponsoring with other campus organizations is an excellent idea. Another variation on this theme is to find out who the resources are on your campus and in your community who can help with, or even present, programs for you. You do not have to be the expert on every single student health issue.

Have you done some great alcohol abuse prevention programming? We would like to hear about it and may feature your program on this blog or in other materials.

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