Thursday, November 29, 2012
The University of West Georgia has joined forces with the Governor’s Office of Highway Safety (GOHS) to educate young adults about distracted driving and alcohol abuse, including underage drinking and impaired driving. The UWG Department of Health Services has once again earned a $12,000 GOHS grant award annually since 2004.
This year’s award is to be used for continued participation in the Georgia Young Adult Program (GYAP). Designed for colleges and universities in the state, GYAP focuses on peer education, alcohol abuse prevention, impaired and distracted driving, underage drinking, addiction, safety belts, speeding, risk reductions and other destructive decisions.
“The GOHS grant is important because the funding provides diverse educational opportunities to UWG students and area high school students regarding alcohol and impaired or distracted driving,” said Jill Hendricks, grant project manager and patient advocate for University Health Services. “Our goals are to empower adolescents and young adults to choose healthy lifestyles, to make safe decisions, and to reduce the number of highway fatalities.”
Over the last few years, the grant has allowed the department to utilize peer educators who provide educational programming-not only to UWG students, but also to area high schools and middle schools. The grant also provided funding to purchase fatal vision goggles, which allows the participants to experience the adverse consequences including vision, motor skills, and judgment impairment.
Each year the department holds two seat belt surveys to determine seat belt use among students and to raise awareness about its importance. This year 86 percent of students surveyed were wearing seat belts. Other impacts of the grant have included, but are not limited to support of adult educational programming, presentations from national speakers, partnership with Carrollton High School to make its senior prom safer, and promoting pedestrian safety at elementary schools during Halloween.
The long-term goal of GYAP is to create safer, healthy campus environments. Programming, provided through the collaborative efforts of many offices and coordinated by Ron King, health educator responsible for alcohol education, includes diverse prevention classes and activities as well as the distribution of educational incentives designed to advocate positive, healthy lifestyles and traditions.
Student services staff members as well as the student leaders from campus organizations have been certified to teach these classes in the last year, and more will be trained to teach this year. Trained peer educators provide safety incentives for those students who attend alcohol education classes as well as during the annual observance of Health and Safety Week, National Alcohol Awareness Week, and at presentations provided by nationally recognized speakers. King and peer educators are also available to do presentations in local area high schools.