WMU News

Drinking, drugging topic of conference for area high school students

March 20, 2003

KALAMAZOO -- Helping area high school students get a better handle on how to avoid the pitfalls of drinking and drug use that some of their college-age peers encounter is the goal of Western Michigan University's third annual "Get With the Program" conference Friday, March 21.

The on-campus event, slated for 8:30 a.m. to noon in the Dalton Center Recital Hall, orients high school students toward an alcohol- and drug-free lifestyle. It will feature mentors from WMU student organizations sharing factual information through a theatrical presentation, panel discussion and health fair.

Fourteen school districts in four counties were invited to send high school seniors to this year's conference, which is being sponsored by the Kalamazoo-based Prevention Works coalition and WMU, with major assistance from the University's Office of Alcohol and Other Drug Abuse Prevention or ADAP, Office of Admissions and Orientation and Office of Health Promotion and Education.

"We realize that not all high school graduates go to college, but all are faced with difficult decisions regarding alcohol, drugs and relationships," says Victor Manzon, ADAP director.

"The more informed they are on these subjects, the greater the likelihood that the decisions they make will have desirable consequences. By reaching out to them early through "Get with the Program," we expose them to the realities of alcohol and drug use as well as dispel some of the myths associated with college life."

Registration for the 2003 conference will take place from 8:30 to 9 a.m. and be followed by a brief welcome.

WMU student peer educators will facilitate a presentation of "No More Lies: A Workshop About Communities of Caring and the Alcohol Culture" from 9:15 a.m. to 9:35 a.m. and 11 a.m. to noon. This interactive theatrical presentation developed by the University provides intense, realistic experiences through which students can examine their individual and community relationships to alcohol and express their opinions and concerns in a safe, nonjudgmental manner.

From 10 to 10:35 a.m., a panel composed of members of representatives from various student groups will discuss such topics as how they fully enjoy life without engaging in dangerous behaviors and successfully navigate an alcohol-obsessed social world without drinking. Some of the panelists also will talk about problems that alcohol has caused in their lives.

A health fair featuring information booths and special activities will run concurrently with this year's "Get With the Program." Those attending the conference may visit the fair during breaks and at the end of the event.

Beth A. Schwartz, ADAP special projects coordinator, notes that "Get With the Program" reflects WMU's commitment to reducing underage use of alcohol and drugs through its campus-based alcohol and drug education programs.

"'The youth conference is an informative, entertaining and effective way for high schools to complement their existing prevention efforts," Schwartz says.

"High school students enter college with the impression that drinking is expected of them--that it's a right of passage. The story not being told is that most college students don't become involved in dangerous drinking or drug use during their campus experiences."

She adds that although the timing of the 2003 conference prevents some schools from participating, the number of local community members who are involved has dramatically increased.

"To keep the 2003 conference fresh and relevant, we formed a planning committee that includes high school students and community members as well as WMU students and staff," Schwartz explains. "We also collected input by visiting with high school officials from more than half a dozen schools. In addition, a record number of businesses are donating refreshments and raffle items this year."

Media note: To reserve a space, news organizations planning to cover "Get With The Program" are asked to call the Office of Alcohol and Other Drug Abuse Prevention at (269) 387-2260 at least one day prior to the event and report the number of people who will be attending.

Media contact: Jeanne Baron, 269 387-8400, jeanne.baron@wmich.edu

Office of University Relations
Western Michigan University
1903 W Michigan Ave
Kalamazoo MI 49008-5433 USA
269 387-8400