“There’s more ways to have fun than underage drinking” is the message the Harrison County Community Coalition Partnership is bringing to college students this week, as the anti-drug and alcohol group kicked off its inaugural “Burritos over Booze” campaign at Texas State Technical College-Marshall, Tuesday.
“Our Harrison County coalition came up with this idea on their own,” said Nathaniel Olson, coalition program manager for East Texas Council on Alcoholism & Drug Abuse, also known as ETCADA.
“We’re at TSTC today and then we’re going to be at Wiley College on Sunday,” said Olson, noting they will be serving burritos and dispensing information from 1-2 p.m. “We’re inviting the college students to come out. What we’re trying to do is share the message that there’s other activities that people can be involved in other than drinking that are safer and healthier and (that) binge drinking and underage drinking are not healthy, safe things to do.
“So we’re trying to pass out burritos, have fun, and just show the young people that there are other options out there, other ways to get involved, including in the coalition,” he said. “We just want to pass out free food and just get young people involved in what we’re doing.”
Tuesday’s event proved to be a success as the coalition reached 44 participants with their message. Olson said he was pleased with the turnout, especially since it was a new event.
“We had a whole bunch of kids and faculty attend,” he said. “With the first event we weren’t really sure how many to expect, and with it being summertime we knew not a lot of kids were on campus, and so we were really pleased with how many came out today.”
In addition to their targeted message about the health dangers of underage and binge drinking, the coalition distributed literature on marijuana, prescription drug abuse and synthetic marijuana. Annette Ellis, TSTC director of student services, said her department was glad to partner up with the coalition and also provide some educational material on drinking and driving laws and online counseling services.
“We provided some educational material and wanted a fun activity because the students are at the end of the semester, completing their finals; and graduation is on Friday,” said Ellis. “With that in mind, we wanted to provide a light snack and have a fun event and kind of release some of the stress while they are moving around the campus while they are taking the final.”
As an activity, each participant was afforded the chance to don a pair of alcohol impairment simulation goggles, and try to walk a straight line. Once they made it to the end, they were challenged to try to stack a set of plastic cups on top of each other.
Student Christina Sims said she enjoyed learning about the dangers of underage and binge drinking through the innovative activities.
“I thought it was fun,” she said. “It was a good thing to come out and be able to (participate).”
Eliah Henderson, 22, also appreciated the message that was conveyed through the “Burritos over Booze” event.
“It’s important to stay in your right mind, not to drink and be safe, as well,” Henderson said.
Quentin Sherman, 21, considered the event educational.
“It showed me what it’s like to be pulled over and tested to see if you’re drunk,” he said.
The free burrito was a plus, he added, as he happily indulged in one.
Olson said he was pleased that the message was received.
“They got the message,” he said of the purpose of the event. “That’s the whole idea is to just spread those seeds of information. We know that there’s a lot of information out there, a lot of things that young people have to deal with and a lot of peer pressure and all those types of things; and if we can keep giving out the information on the health risks of underage drinking and binge drinking, then hopefully through continuing to share this information and through the coalition being in the community, we’ll get some change.”
The coalition meets every third Tuesday of the month at Marshall Public Library from 1-2 p.m. for those interested in joining the group in the fight against alcohol and drug abuse among youth and young adults, ages 18 to 25.
“Our next meeting is Tuesday, Aug. 21,” said Olson.
Published in Marshall News Messanger on August 15, 2018 by Robin Y. Richardson firstname.lastname@example.org