Using NCAAW as the Cornerstone of Prevention Efforts
Oftentimes we find ourselves and our programs confined to a segmented area of the campus, without the opportunity to make a campus-wide impact. The sole purpose of NCAAW is to provide widespread campus participation to create support for alcohol abuse prevention programs and other healthrelated efforts. Through the promotion of a highly visible week of educational programming and activities, NCAAW builds campus-wide attention for alcohol abuse prevention and related health and safety issues. Whether your focus is traditional, social norms based, or fully comprehensive, use NCAAW as a spark to build even greater attention to your efforts.
While many campuses choose to schedule their own alcohol awareness weeks at other times in the fall (because of conflicts with Homecoming, for example), it is wise to observe NCAAW during the third week in October, if possible, due to the wide-spread national publicity surrounding the event. Many prevention programmers have found that piggy-backing on the national attention given to NCAAW makes it easier to get sponsorships from community sources and attention from campus administrators. If the third week of the month isn’t a good time, you might consider another October weekend, which would still allow you to take advantage of the national attention on collegiate alcohol issues.
As a high point for year-round prevention and education services, NCAAW is also a wonderful vehicle for boosting visibility and support for peer education and other innovative campus wellness programs. Every year, NCAAW proves to inspire students from a wide spectrum of campus life to review their lifestyles and to challenge their peers to make better, healthier decisions where alcohol abuse and health issues are concerned. Effective peer education has always been at the heart of NCAAW, and today this strategy is more important than ever in building successful, high impact programs.
NCAAW is used by campuses across North America and beyond to educate, to inform, to challenge and hopefully to create change. It is a perfect opportunity to build partnerships with other offices, student groups, and faculty members. Whether this is your first NCAAW or your best-yet NCAAW, we hope that your message will successfully spur conversation and excitement in your entire campus community. This manual is designed to help guide your efforts.
WHAT’S YOUR NCAAW PHILOSOPHY?
For many, simply getting started is the hardest part of planning your NCAAW activities. Reviewing this guide is a good start. Even if you are already underway in planning for this year’s NCAAW, take a moment to use this manual as a checklist.
Although each of the following sections deals with the mechanics of planning and implementing NCAAW, it is important from the start that you take some time up front to define your educational approach and goals for building your program. There is no standard formula for building NCAAW on a particular campus. Factors ranging from state laws and campus policies to specific prevention philosophies all come into play in how your respective campus may choose to tackle the prevention issue. The challenge is to come up with a philosophy for your week and then to design activities that promote the educational goals to the entire campus community.
Many successful campus NCAAW campaigns have been built around an entire week of programming with the simple goal that virtually every member of the campus community be touched by at least one event. This means planning something for athletics, something targeting women, something for the fraternities and sororities, something in the residence halls, something entertaining, something serious.
Other campuses prefer to target specific campus populations for change. Still others rely on big programs seeking out national speakers to facilitate debates and create broad media campaigns to build student interest and participation. It all depends on your resources. Don’t attempt more than you can handle in terms of finances, time and assistance.
Regardless of the approach you take, it is important that you have a clear idea of your prevention philosophy and goals for the week. This way, you can be consistent in designing your campus NCAAW events, and you will be able to share this vision with committee members.
The truly creative and inspirational efforts for NCAAW always begin with some serious brainstorming. One of the first things you will want to do with your committee is to sit around and “dream” a little bit. What things would you like to accomplish? If you could do anything, what would you do?
For many committees, brainstorming begins with a theme. You want to find a theme that will frame your activities for the entire week. You want something memorable, marketable, and fun. A good way to begin this process is to get a flip chart and some markers. The only rule is that there are no dumb ideas. Committee members can make suggestions until an overall theme appears. As your committee members get excited about an idea, start a new sheet and refine it until it takes the desired form. Acronyms can be developed around fun words. Parts of songs or poems can be incorporated. Historical quotations can be used. It is up to you!
If you are searching for your own unique theme, there are an infinite number of directions your brainstorming might take. Some themes that other campuses have successfully promoted include:
Celebrate a Healthy “U” (University and You)
The Art of Responsibility
Leading the Way in Healthy Choices
Get SMART! (Students Making Alcohol Responsibility Today)
You Hold the Key to Success
Be a Part From the START (Students Taking Action &
Responsibility for Tomorrow)
FREAK Out! (Finding Responsible and Entertaining Alternatives
Seize the Day!
Making the Right Connections
I Have a Choice
How the Health Are You?
It’s also great to build themes around popular television shows, summer blockbuster movies (MATRIX RELOADED or TERMINATOR 3), or current song titles. This is where the students on your committee can be particularly helpful! They know what their friends watch and listen to! Here is a quick list of things you could do to support NCAAW:
- Enlist the help of journalism and writing faculty to promote entries into the IATF Student Writing Contest.
- Create a mosaic display or mural in a well-traveled location asking people to contribute an opinion statement on colorful pieces of paper about how alcohol abuse has affected them
- Favorite Mocktail Recipe Reception - Discuss the importance of serving non-alcoholic beverages at any social event.
- Send out a brief fact sheet about alcohol behavior and effects of alcohol on the body. The next day in the student newspaper, do a brief quiz where students have to turn in their answers for a drawing for dinner at a faculty member’s house. Secure faculty in advance as a means to promote NCAAW and to find out what they might serve for dinner.
- Have a progressive dinner of foods from around the world at different locations of the campus as a social event. Have many organizations or offices sponsor each stop. Ask local health organizations to set up displays and distribute information on healthy behavior.
- Sponsor a sign painting or mural competition between student organizations. Display the finalists at the weekend athletic event and announce the winner at half-time.
- Put together some nutritional facts about calories, fat content, and consuming alcohol.
- Have a “Hosting a Party to Remember” Workshop and talk about server or host training methods for a successful party.
- Run a photo contest for pictures of students having fun as they make healthy choices.
- Work with student athletes to develop a program about how alcohol abuse affects performance.
Your theme will be the lasting memory of your week. It will be your calling card next year when you go looking for support for NCAAW 2004! It will appear on your posters, your Tshirts, and in the titles of your educational programs.
Brainstorming is just what the word applies - a “storm” of ideas that are offered first and evaluated later. We naturally judge and categorize things immediately. Our brains are trained to sort things as good ideas or bad, worthwhile or not. The key to brainstorming is to turn off that judging process so that ideas flow freely without anyone trying to figure out whether or not they will work, if it costs too much money, etc. Suspending judgment on ideas gives the people who are brainstorming creative input and empowerment without worrying about “saying something stupid.” People are often reluctant to offer ideas, fearing the criticism of others. If you conduct a productive brainstorming session, people will feel comfortable blurting out any thought.