NCAA Collaboration Scores with Alcohol Education Book

Posted: June 22, 2009 at 1:00 am, Last Updated: February 5, 2010 at 10:37 am

By Marjorie Musick

David Anderson. Creative Services photo

David Anderson. Creative Services photo

While college basketball tournaments were in full swing this year, the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) was celebrating another kind of victory – the 10th anniversary of its CHOICES grant program to curb alcohol abuse.

Since 1998, the NCAA has awarded 114 grants of $30,000 each to effectively integrate student athletes, athletics programs and athletic events into its member schools’ overall campus efforts to encourage responsible behavior.

David Anderson, Mason professor of education and human development and director of the Center for the Advancement of Public Health (CAPH), has advised the NCAA in the past on effective prevention strategy and evaluation for CHOICES projects. Most recently, he oversaw developing a book that showcases the most effective strategies and projects implemented as a result of the grants.

Working in collaboration with NCAA Associate Director of Education Services Mary Wilfert and the NCAA Health and Safety project staff, Anderson and his CAPH team created the content by poring over a decade’s worth of grantee reports, evaluations and interviews. The result was “Best of CHOICES Alcohol Education: 1998 – 2008.”

Best of CHOICES was unveiled in January at the NCCA’s Annual Conference in Washington, D.C., and was distributed to the organization’s more than 1,200 member schools.

choices“The book provides wonderful examples of the various ways that institutions have made use of the grant funding to address their campus’ needs, strengthen relationships with colleagues across the campus and encourage healthy choices for students,” says Anderson.

“It was designed as a resource to assist all campuses that work on alcohol education and prevention, whether or not they have had or seek a CHOICES grant.”

Ten case studies featuring vibrant photographs and colorful charts illustrate how seven key elements — campaigns, collaboration, educational programming, evaluation, events, policy and training — were used to tackle alcohol abuse.

An accompanying DVD contains interviews with staff members at grantee institutions. It also includes a searchable database created by Mason Media Lab allowing users to find cataloged projects based on factors such as campus size and location.

These interactive features bring to life the voices of practitioners from colleges and universities throughout the nation and allow other professionals to identify meaningful and cost-effective strategies for addressing campus alcohol abuse.

“We felt that it was important that the personnel who handle alcohol abuse prevention efforts be able to incorporate the lessons and insights gleaned from CHOICES grantees in a locally appropriate manner. By working smarter, by collaborating and by building upon prior successes, it is hoped that campuses can build healthier and safer living and learning communities,” says Anderson.

Anderson reports that the response from member schools to the Best of CHOICES book has been extremely positive.

“When we set out to do this, it was ambiguous what the book was going to be, so it was exciting to take a concept like a celebratory document and bring it into reality. We wanted something that would be manageable and useful for different audiences and would also have some interactive technical capability. Feeling the excitement, passion and commitment of these grantees about their projects was wonderful,” says Anderson.

The Best of CHOICES book is available online.

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