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FVSU Receives Grant to Start DUI Awareness | Schools

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FVSU Receives Grant to Start DUI Awareness

Fort Valley State University received a $9,890 grant to start a new peer-led program, called “Be the Sober One”.

Recently, Chizu Hirata, a center counselor, submitted an application to the Governor’s Office of Highway Safety’s (GOHS) “Young Adult Drinking and Driving” program. The proposal was approved.

“We’ve launched the program this month,” said Hirata, who is the principal investigator for the highway grant.

Hirata says that the GOHS’s “Young Adult Drinking and Driving” program aims to reduce the number of alcohol-impaired driving in drivers ages 21-34. The GOHS awarded the grant in September.

According to Hirata, VBHS peer educators are teaching students about alcohol-related risks, deaths and injuries. Students study the local DUI laws and support the two state campaigns, “Click It or Ticket” and “Operation Zero Tolerance”. Peer educators also encourage students to be the sober one and to look after their friends when they do go out to drink.

Students are also advised to reduce risky behaviors like driving and texting.

Additionally, the counseling center is encouraging students to apply the principles they learn during social gatherings where alcohol is consumed. The center is beginning to reach students through a social media campaign using Facebook.

Dr. Christena Smalls, the counseling services director, and Hirata, credit Tanjanika Lewis, a former VBHS peer educator and intern, for the project’s title and idea. Lewis graduated in May 2010.

“During a meeting we had with peer educators, Tanjanika said that at parties she and her friends would watch out for one another by volunteering to ‘be the sober one’,” Smalls said.

“Under the leadership of Dr. Smalls, we had already launched a Peer Educators program on campus based on Morehouse School of Medicine’s program,” said Hirata. “When Tanjanika shared her story, I was very impressed, as well as other peer educators in the meeting. When the grant opportunity arose, I incorporated [Tanjanika’s] idea (with her permission), and just concretized it.”

“I commend Ms. Hirata for her efforts to obtain this worthwhile grant,” said Dr. Terrance Smith, vice president of student affairs and enrollment management. “I continue to remain impressed by the ongoing commitment of our counseling center in educating students to become responsible citizens. I think that this collaborative effort with the Governor’s Office of Highway Safety will certainly prove to be beneficial to FVSU’s student body.”

Hirata will use part of the grant money to train 15 peer educators based on the BACCHUS program, a peer-educator program advocating the mature use of alcohol, and take five educators to its regional conference in February 2011.

Fort Valley State University’s on-campus counseling center, Valley Behavioral Health Services, wants to reduce the number of alcohol-related risk behaviors, injuries and fatalities. The goal is to teach students to think before getting behind the wheel of a car after drinking.

The National Highway Transportation Safety Administration, a government bureau that oversees vehicle and highway safety, reports that 405 motorists died in drunk-driving accidents along Georgia’s roads last year.

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