University of Miami Awarded 2019 NCAA CHOICES Grant
CORAL GABLES, Fla. – The National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) has awarded the University of Miami a 2019 NCAA CHOICES Grant for its forthcoming ‘Canes Connected peer-education program. The program is a commitment from the Division of Student Affairs, Department of Athletics and all Hurricanes to promote healthy lifestyles, personal and social responsibility, and to educate students about the negative consequences of high-risk use of alcohol, tobacco and other drugs.
“This is a huge honor for the University of Miami to have been accepted for the NCAA CHOICES Alcohol Education Grant program,” said Luis Feigenbuam, UM’s Senior Associate Athletic Director for Performance, Health and Wellness. “The grant allows us the opportunity to develop a program we hope can be implemented in institutions around the country.”
The NCAA CHOICES program is an annual grant program that provides funding for NCAA member schools and conferences to integrate athletics into campus-wide efforts to reduce alcohol abuse. UM’s specific three-year grant will allow the University to develop a peer education program that aims to address problems related to alcohol, tobacco and other drugs among all students at Miami. Focusing on student athletes in its first year then expanding to the student body at large, the program’s main goal is to create a safer and healthier environment for all University of Miami students.
“When it comes to wellbeing and resiliency in our students, our philosophy is ‘Canes Care for ‘Canes,” said Patricia A. Whitely, Vice President for Student Affairs. “Peer education programs have been wildly successful on our campus and are valuable resources that allow students to educate their peers on a variety of issues, especially responsible decision-making related to alcohol and other drugs.”
The more specific goals of ‘Canes Connected peer education program include the following:
- Developing a network of student peer educators, both athlete and nonathlete, to promote healthy behaviors on campus.
- Correcting misconceptions of social norms related to the use of alcohol, tobacco and other drugs on campus.
- Reducing high-risk alcohol and cannabis use and the negative consequences associated with it.
- Promoting a culture among student-athletes that encourages intervention in high-risk situations and discourages hazing.
“The student voice is the most powerful tool we have to change students’ perceptions, especially around alcohol and other drugs,” said Whitney O’Regan, assistant dean of students and director of the Sandler Center for Alcohol and Other Drug Education. “By incorporating student-athletes into our ever-growing peer education network at the Sandler Center, the ‘Canes Connected program will help us to expand our reach and further educate students on responsible and healthy lifestyles while at UM and beyond.”
‘Canes Connected provides a platform that will increase awareness and commitment within the campus community to create an environment in which a change in attitudes, behaviors and use of substances is possible — and participation in high-risk behaviors is reduced.
“The University of Miami knows the power the Hurricanes have,” UM Sports Psychologist Dr. Eric Goldstein said. “In our case, the Hurricanes are our student-athletes, who carry significant cultural influence on campus, but are often an untapped resource. We are excited to integrate them into this program, and we are proud to be part of the NCAA’s commitment to alcohol and drug abuse prevention.”
For more information on the NCAA CHOICES Grant visit ncaa.org.