Most students have pretty big plans for their 21st birthdays, but with their new 21st Birthday Project, Lafene Health Center is hoping students will drink and celebrate safely.
The 21st Birthday Project, the student health center’s new initiative, is overseen by three peer mentors from the WellCAT Ambassadors that are trained to offer advice on drinking responsibly. These mentors meet one-on-one with the students and talk through their 21st birthday plans.
According to statistics from the Alcohol and Sexual Assault Prevention survey taken by students each year, a majority of students don’t drink or drink very little. In fact, K-State’s Manhattan campus is on par with the national average for drinking among returning students, said Jenny Yuen, health educator.
Data on returning students on Lafene’s website, however, shows that the rate of drinking “often” or “daily” is almost three times higher than the national average.
“We want students to know that it may seem like all their friends are drinking, but in reality that isn’t the case,” Yuen said.
Megan Katt, health educator, said while this is a new initiative at K-State, it’s based off of the program of the same name at Virginia Tech.
“We aren’t trying to discourage drinking,” Katt said. “They will legally be allowed to. We just want them to be safe. We don’t want them to miss class because of a hangover or get into an accident.”
Students on the Manhattan campus will receive an email the week before their 21st birthday, Yuen said, which will encourage them to make an appointment with a peer leader to talk about responsible drinking. The meeting is not required, but students who attend will receive a coupon book in addition to learning how to be safe.
“Turning 21 is a positive event,” Yuen said. “We have plenty of students who don’t drink who would also benefit from learning this just in case they decide to drink later in life.”
Julie Gibbs, director of health promotion said that they have had 12 students in the past two weeks receive peer mentoring. The meeting is very casual, she added, and it’s maybe easier for students to open up to a peer than if they were to meet with her directly.
“For example, the peer mentor might suggest that the student only have three drinks as opposed to binge drinking,” Yuen said. “They also give tips such as drinking water between their alcoholic drinks and eating a meal before going out.”