It’s that time of the year again — the new school year begins for many in August. Mom and dad have packed up Junior’s boxes filled with every imaginable need and want of a typical college student. Laptop, check! Mini ‘fridge, check! Alarm clock/radio, check! iPod, check! Alright, you know where this is leading.
Junior is excited about leaving home for the first time, or simply returning for another year in college. They’ve heard the “talk” about being the best student and not getting into trouble for the umpteenth time. But what about a conversation about alcohol abuse? About binge drinking?
Some parents may have had that conversation with their college-bound teen; others may not. Either way, it is important to remind college students and other young people who would be faced with many choices about alcohol consumption, that binge drinking could be disastrous to their health.
While it is often unrealistic to ban drinking, it is sensible to educate young people on the dangers of binge drinking. Texas Christian University (TCU) VITALS campaign does exactly that. VITALS is an acronym that stands for Vomiting, Incoherence, Temperature, Absence of Color, Low breathing and Seizure — all symptoms of alcohol poisoning. The campaign is designed to educate students to recognize these symptoms among their peers and get help.
Since fall semester 2011, VITALS campaign, with a grant from The Century Council, has used traditional and social media, interpersonal interactions at special events and multimedia advertising to communicate the VITALS story to our target audience. We went from zero name-recognition in fall 2011 to successfully reaching more than 50 percent of the TCU student body with the VITALS message by spring 2013.
While this success and the attendant awards are impressive, what is most important are the emails and phone calls from students from TCU and other universities, parents and ordinary citizens, who say they called for help when they noticed their loved one exhibiting any or some of the symptoms of alcohol poisoning.
So, as you help Junior get ready for this next phase in his or her life, arm Junior with some of the most important information—information that could possibly save a life. Arm Junior with VITALS.