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By Cindi Schmalz (May 4, 2007)

UAlbany Students Play Starring Role in Curbing Underage Drinking

 Campaign Logo - Underage Drinking is not a Minor Problem
Program Logo

Seven University at Albany students from the Middle Earth Peer Assistance Program are "starring" in a state public service campaign that is aimed at combating underage drinking by college students.

The New York State Office of Alcoholism and Substance Abuse Services (NYS OASAS) selected UAlbany to be a major part of this campaign because of the quality of a public service announcement (PSA) it developed. UAlbany's PSA was chosen first among submissions from 12 colleges throughout the state, each of whom was awarded up to $25,000 by NYS OASAS to develop a PSA on the subject "Underage Drinking: Not a Minor Problem" College Edition."

After the UAlbany PSA was selected in December as the winner of the competition, UAlbany students and staff were given the opportunity to work with Sawchuk Brown Associates to create the statewide PSA, which is airing on major television networks as well as at movie theaters across the state.

Watch the statewide PSA.

The Middle Earth Peer Assistance Program and the University Counseling Center brought together trained peer educators to work with NYS OASAS to develop the PSA. Middle Earth students served as actors in the statewide PSA; representatives from other colleges and universities in New York State were also featured.
NYS OASAS, which is responsible for prevention and treatment programs addressing alcohol and substance abuse, announced the campaign at a March 13 press event presided over by Lt. Gov. David Paterson, SUNY Chancellor John R. Ryan, and NYS OASAS Commissioner Karen Carpenter-Palumbo.

Andrew Messina, 19, a second-year student with junior standing from Saint James, N.Y., was among the students with a speaking part in the PSA. Other UAlbany students included Rasheed Anderson, Kezia Cooper, Peter-Jason Devine, David Fooden, Jennifer Roman, and May Ling Yam. Messina said the PSA is positive and effective, and shows that not all college students go out and drink all the time.

Devine, 22, a graduating senior from Fishkill, N.Y., said, "It was very exciting to be working on such an important project; seeing the genuine interest of the NYS OASAS in working with students to craft a positive, healthy-lifestyles campaign that would showcase a serious issue, in a way that students will pay attention to and take notice of, was very gratifying because it made me realize that New York State genuinely cares about its citizens."

After being accepted and trained by the Middle Earth program as undergraduate peer educators, Messina and Devine have hosted, assisted, and organized many programs focused on promoting health in UAlbany students. Middle Earth peer educators provide information on a variety of subjects, including: concerns about drinking and drug misuse and abuse, body image and eating disorders, study skills, and stress management. Messina said, "Being a peer educator is an opportunity to provide information and education to students." Devine, a member of Middle Earth, said, "I'm proud to be a part of an organization at the University, such as Middle Earth, that consistently goes above and beyond to help students lead a healthy and active life."

Editor's Note: Cindi Schmalz, a UAlbany senior, is an intern in the Office of Media and Marketing.


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