DuBOIS, Pa - Penn State DuBois recently partnered with the Clearfield-Jefferson Drug and Alcohol Commission, the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation, State Farm Insurance, DuBois Area High School, and the Pennsylvania State Police to bring the community a virtual program on underage drinking, and steps that can be taken to prevent problems resulting from this issue. The entire town hall presentation can be viewed here.
Program Coordinator of the Penn State DuBois Human Development and Family Studies (HDFS) Program Jessica Clontz explained, “One of my priorities is supporting local human service agencies in their missions of serving the community. When Chelsea Clark and Jamie Long, prevention specialists from the Clearfield-Jefferson Drug and Alcohol Commission, reached out to me about partnering on a town hall focusing on underage drinking, I jumped at the chance to team up with the commission and support this event. We discussed which speakers would be helpful in educating our communities on underage drinking, planned a virtual format that could be easily accessible given the pandemic, and partnered with the downtown LaunchBox as a setting for streaming the live panelist Q&A.”
Clontz reached out to campus colleagues who could help to facilitate the virtual delivery, explaining, “I reached out to Jessica Mondi from the Penn State DuBois marketing team and she immediately dove into the planning process by recording speakers, compiling the recordings into a movie, and was instrumental in the streaming of the live portion. I also connected with Colleen Lanzoni, Penn State DuBois campus counselor, as this event supports the mission of the Counseling and Wellness Center on campus. Colleen enthusiastically jumped in as well by designing our marketing materials that were displayed around campus and online. This event was a true team effort and could not have happened without all members. I am excited to partner with the CJDAC on future events as the topics of addiction, substance abuse, and family recovery are near and dear to my heart and important for my students to be engaged with as future human service professionals.”
Not only did Clontz intend for the program to serve as an asset for community members who may be able to assist in efforts to curb this social challenge, it also provided a real-world learning opportunity for her students.
“Students in my ‘Youth At-Risk’ class this semester have been learning about risk and protective factors for children and adolescents who engage in unhealthy or unsafe activities such as substance abuse, as well as prevention and intervention efforts targeting this population,” Clontz explained. “The students in my class were required to attend the town hall virtually and incorporate the content into their final project for the course, which is designing their own prevention/intervention program for youth in the local area. Students are learning how to develop efficacious programs that engage and empower youth who might be struggling with substance use. This event gave students a chance to observe a local partnership effort to prevent underage drinking and strengthen families.”
Student Kaelynn Kuhar shared, “I would have to say that this town hall meeting has shown me how hard the community actually works to make sure that people know how to stay safe and what resources there are that can actually help a person when they are need of that service.”
Classmate Danni Warren said, “HDFS covers a lot of territory, and I'm not quite sure which population I'll be working with yet. That being said, the Town Hall meeting provided me with a better understanding of prevention and intervention tactics for underage drinking, and that information can be helpful when working with children and their parents."
Fellow student Paul Brosky added, “The issue of underage drinking is something we are not talking about enough, and I’m glad people are speaking up about it.” He continued, “By having a variety of speakers at this virtual town hall, I felt this made it very beneficial to everyone because it could connect with people of all different interests. You could see the analytical side of the issue as well as the physical and emotional side with the stories and examples that were brought to this event. Hearing from a family that lost their son due to a crash with a drunk driver was probably the most powerful part of the event. It was very sad to hear their story, but I am glad it is being shared for people to hear. I hope there are more opportunities in the future for our community to be involved in programs like this. The more our community knows and discusses issues like underage drinking, the more our community can prevent future tragedies like the one expressed by this family.”
Students who are enrolled in the HDFS program at Penn State DuBois are studying to enter careers in social work, as counselors for addiction treatment, and in behavioral health and probation. In their careers, they likely will be involved with organizations and their clients such as the ones they have touched through this project. For more information, visit https://dubois.psu.edu/human-development-and-family-studies-0