The Student Connection
The Student Connection

The Student Connection

Grant to Promote Healthy Lifestyle Choices for Students

Hampton University is the recipient of a Minority Serving Institutions (MSI) Initiative for Substance Abuse (SA), HIV and Hepatitis Prevention award for $85,000. It is funded by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA).

The HU Peers in Prevention (HU-PIP) program is a joint effort between the HU Student Counseling Center and the University Health Center. It is designed to increase access to comprehensive, integrated substance abuse, HIV and hepatitis prevention services, and early detection of HIV among the university's students. A cadre of student peer educators will be recruited from a cross-section of the student body, to be trained for leadership in the initiative. Student Health Center Administrator Darylnet Lyttle and Student Counseling Center Director Dr. Linda Kirkland-Harris are the program co-directors.

Efforts within the initiative will target the university's freshman class, the focus group because of increased substance abuse among new students who're independent for the first time, and trying new behaviors.

"We are directing special attention to freshman students in order to help shape their management of new autonomy toward making positive behavioral choices. There will, however, be campus-wide prevention efforts to support all of our students' well being," said Kirkland-Harris.

Already, the university is proactive in its proclamation of healthy behavior; HU-PIP will extend prevention efforts already in place. Both centers provide substance use awareness and intervention. The Health Center offers on-going free HIV testing. It also has conducted mass testing in recognition of World AIDS Day and National Black HIV/AIDS HIV Awareness Day. Examples of awareness and prevention activities include a student-driven social marketing campaign, residence hall chats, expanded HIV testing, open discussion forums, and special student centered events.

"Our desire is to create a campus community that is aware of how these issues adversely effect minority college students, and how they can decrease their risk of being affected by them," said Lyttle.

HU's proposal application for the award was chosen from "a large number of high quality submissions," and received 99 of 100 points for its proposal which was, "complimentary to the goals of the MSI Initiative," according to the award letter.

-Leha Byrd