HEAT puts a creative spin on drug and alcohol awareness

by Denin Koch

Roughly 30 students gathered in the Multi-Purpose Room on Wednesday, March 11 to celebrate “Hugs Not Drugs,” an event sponsored by the Health Education Action Team (HEAT).

The event began at 7 p.m. and featured a host of student performers who were invited to perform at the event. Between acts, members of HEAT shared facts and statistics about alcohol, drugs and tobacco.

“Our idea for this event was a fun night where students can share their art and music,” Emily Fisher, a member of HEAT, said. “We want to see a little different crowd than a lecture. This can also be time when we share information about health statistics.”

HEAT is a four person team comprised of Fisher, Cindy Duncan, Anneliese Barnes and Kyle Davis that sponsors four health-related events each semester. Hugs Not Drugs was the second HEAT event to take place this semester. Every HEAT event focuses on one of four major areas of health: mental, physical, sexual and alcohol, drugs and tobacco. All four are covered each semester.

HEAT related facts about drugs, alcohol and tobacco to encourage attendees to consider carefully their use of these substances. Davis revealed that of the over 7,000 chemicals released by cigarettes, 69 are known carcinogens. Duncan spoke about the growing popularity of hookah, reporting that one-fifth of male and one-sixth of female high school seniors have used the device.

HEAT also used survey results to juxtapose the perception of drug use at Whitworth against the reality of its prevalence. In a survey conducted last year, 55 percent of students reported that they believe that the typical Whitworth student drinks six days a month. Only 24 percent reported this being true for themselves. Members further reported that 80 percent of Whitworth students claim to have never used marijuana, and 99 percent claim to have never used cocaine.

In light of these results, Duncan emphasized the continuing importance of HEAT’s mission.

“People are continuing to make personal decisions about what they are doing,” Duncan said. “If we stop [educating people], people continue to not know and it can be a problem later down the road.”

The seven student performances ranged from guitar and vocals to a spontaneous showing by members of Cool Whip, Whitworth’s on-campus improv comedy troupe. Music selections included classical piano, worship songs, originals and familiar pop tunes.

HEAT’s next event is a partnering with Green Dot to raise awareness of sexual harassment. Registration for the 2k walk begins April 8, and the event will be held on April 11.

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