UCO's #ResponsibleChos

(Provided/Julia Reed)
The Center for Counseling and Well-Being and the athletics department at the University of Central Oklahoma have partnered to address substance and alcohol abuse prevention education.
“[We are] working with student athletics as Peer Health Leaders for peer education, working alongside coaches, athletic trainers and other athletics staff to ensure we are supporting our athletes and advocating for well-being,” said Alex Russell, assistant director of Health Promotion and Outreach.
Representatives from the counseling center and athletics went to the NCAA APPLE Training Institute in San Diego, California in January for further training on how to prevent student-athlete substance abuse and health and wellness promotion. Conference participants were from Division I, II and III schools across the country.
“The NCAA Sport Science Institute partners with the University of Virginia Gordie Center to sponsor the APPLE Institute…for student-athletes, athletics administrators and campus partners dedicated to substance abuse prevention and heal promotion of college athletes,” said Julia Reed, senior director of the Center for Counseling and Well-Being. “Participants learn how to apply the APPLE model within their athletics department.”
The APPLE model follows the belief that everyone in an athletics department has to be enfranchised and empowered to create a healthy environment and healthy lifestyles, according to the University of Virginia APPLE website. Seven distinct areas, called slices, make up the APPLE model: recruitment, expectations and attitudes, policies, education, referral and counseling, drug testing and sanctioning.
“The training helped us with creating an action plan and we are excited to provide better programming and support our athletic department on campus,” Russell said.

In the fall, UCO was awarded the NCAA Champion of Success (‘CHOS) Choices grant to help implement education and training within the athletic department. The partnership’s goals include enhancing student-athlete orientation, implementing broad screening measures with athletic training and providing resources to athletes who assist recruitment.
“[The grant] will allow for us to focus on interpersonal violence prevention and substance abuse prevention/education within the athletic department,” Reed said. “We will still continue to bring interpersonal violence prevention, substance and alcohol abuse prevention and overall wellness to the entire campus.”
At the conference, the representatives created the #responsiblechos and #thirstyforachange hashtags to bring prevention education to social media.
“We encourage students and staff to use these hashtags when partnering with us,” Russell said.

Beyond athletics, the peer health leadership program works with Greek life and non-Greek students to promote health and wellness of the whole campus.
The Center for Counseling and Well-Being offers multiple groups for students that want to change their behaviors or are in recovery. Stages of Change works with students to reflect on behaviors they want to change and find ways to make a change. A SMART Recovery group meets weekly to aid students having problems with using and drinking maintain a balanced lifestyle.

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