Coalitions in Action: Wolcott Citizens Against Substance Abuse’s “Selfie Day”

 

When young people misuse drugs, consume alcohol or smoke, they risk not only their current state of health, but their body’s development and growth. In an effort to reach youth, the Wolcott Citizens Against Substance Abuse (CASA) coalition listened to the hottest trends and created the CASA “Selfie Day.”

“You have to meet them in their world, through technology and current appropriate trends…like selfie pictures,” said Kate Glendon, Project Director at CASA. “This will help nurture a relationship with the young people in your community.”

In Wolcott, Conn., 25 percent of the 16,000 population is under the age of 18. Many businesses in town are small and family-owned by residents of Wolcott. Much of the population is single-family homes and many families from surrounding larger cities will relocate to Wolcott for a quieter life and better school system. Wolcott is a sports-oriented town with many children starting sports as early as age five, continuing through high school. Along with heavy involvement in sports comes the social norm problem of tailgating before games and the idea that underage drinking is a “rite of passage” for the youth in the community.

CASA has the unique benefit of having the grant project director’s office located in the high school, affording easy access to student, faculty and administration. Through this advantage, the CASA “Selfie Day” was born. The purpose of the “Selfie Day” was to increase the coalition’s visibility in the community, to utilize the activity as a membership recruitment tool for youth in town, and to provide information on the effects of alcohol. With the help of town workers, a CASA selfie frame was built and brought to the high school cafeteria along with a spinning wheel game. Coalition members were present in the cafeteria for all student lunch times, encouraging students to come to the table and play a spin game with questions related to alcohol. The students also had the opportunity to take a selfie in the CASA frame as a show of support for the coalition.

The “Selfie Day” was a great success. Students were excited to participate in the game and eager to have their selfie taken within the CASA frame. Since the event, students have come to the coalition office in the school to offer their help with upcoming projects. More importantly, students learned about the impacts of alcohol on the adolescent’s mind and body, by using games, prizes and the selfie frame in a  fun and approachable way.

CASA’s mission of “building a healthy Wolcott through prevention” is the driving force behind changing the perception of underage drinking in the community.