Spring Break Partying is Inevitable, but Ambassadors Raise Risk Awareness to Prepare Peers
LEXINGTON, Ky. (March 10, 2014) - The University of Kentucky Student Wellness Ambassadors aren't naïve - they know some students choose to jeopardize their health with binge drinking, overexposure to the sun or other reckless decisions while letting loose on spring break.
Cori Biggers knows of a spring breaker who once fell asleep in a pool. Freddie Williams, who traveled to Panama Beach last year, watched paramedics rescue intoxicated students on the beach during his group vacation. Haley Wehder said even a student who traveled home still made poor choices and fell face-first into a bonfire. Each scenario is a real example of the results that stem from a lack of preparation and poor decision-making.
The ambassadors are aware that many students are bound for partying, but this week they hope to provide information and raise awareness that might help their peers in risky situations. They are coordinating Wellness Gone Wild Week, which will include games, giveaways and free resources at stations located across campus Monday through Wednesday.
"People expect that spring break is a part of college life," Wehder said. "They think, 'Oh, I can make bad decisions sometimes' - decisions that don’t line up with what they want to do in life. We are not here to tell people not to do that; we are here to say there might be consequences."
While sometimes unnerving, their messages serve to educate their peers about the risks involved with alcohol, extreme tanning, road travel, sexual activity and more. They'll share facts, such as the first skin-prepping visit to the tanning bed increases the risk of melanoma by 75 percent. Or, the average male consumes 18 drinks per day while on spring break. And 60 percent of women are intoxicated when they contract a sexually transmitted infection.
Throughout the week, the ambassadors will quiz students on spring break partying facts with games like the "Wheel of Misfortune" and "Don't Go Wrong Beer Pong." On Tuesday night at the William T. Young Library, students can participate in a role-playing activity to practice responses to sexual pressure and violence. The team will be giving away the "Sex in the Sack" kit, which includes condoms and safe sex resources, beach towels, gift certificates to local restaurants, water bottles, t-shirts, sunscreen and Lexington Legends tickets.
While many of their messages address alcohol and sexual activity, the team will also provide practical reminders about hydration, accountability and general travel safety. Even the sober spring breakers will encounter potential hazards while traveling late on the road, sizzling in the sun or operating watersport vehicles. The ambassadors said many students return from spring break wishing they had not spent so much money or feeling tired from a lack of sleep.
Matt Moore, president of the Student Wellness Ambassadors, said a lot of students have the mentality of 'what happens on spring break stays on spring break' - which is usually not the case. Many students wake up from a night of partying disillusioned or regretful. Moore said the team's outreach is not to discourage partying, but rather provide tips to encourage safer partying and practical information to stay out of harmful situations. The ambassador’s main efforts are to ensure a safe and enjoyable trip through reasonable choices. These choices include setting a limit and counting the number of drinks consumed, staying with trusted friends and holding each other accountable and upholding their personal values.
"The biggest message is, we want students to have a great time, but understand that there are risks and be able to recognize those risks," Moore said.
Video from UK PR and Marketing from 2013 wellness week.
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