Talk About a Celebration helps students celebrate safely

September 06, 2018

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - The Penn State Parents Program, in collaboration with Health Promotion and Wellness, both units of Penn State Student Affairs, are helping students celebrate their 21st birthday safely by encouraging conversations about alcohol harm reduction strategies. The Penn State Parents Program initiative, Talk About a Celebration, is designed to assist families in sharing information about low-risk drinking behaviors and healthy decision making.  

According to Robert Turrisi, Penn State professor of biobehavioral health and director of the Prevention Research Center, studies show that there is value in parents having continued conversations with their students about drinking, even in college.

“Parents who discourage risky drinking and support lower consumption have sons and daughters who experience fewer problems,” said Turrisi. “The opposite is also true. Parents who encourage risky drinking and support higher consumption have sons and daughters who experience greater problems. Parents matter so much when it comes to alcohol and their children—even well into their mid to late 20s.”

“Student Affairs has long taken an active role in providing education and resources around the dangers associated with high-risk drinking,” said Damon Sims, vice president for Penn State Student Affairs. “Engaging parents in new ways around these efforts is an important next step. We want to encourage parents to have conversations with their students about risky drinking and provide them the resources to make those conversations more valuable by providing concrete strategies.”

Talk About a Celebration will launch this fall. Parents and families will receive a postcard prior to their student’s 21st birthday with a list of harm reduction strategies and talking points to share with their student. They will then be directed to the Parents Program website to complete a form requesting a birthday card for their student. The card will include tips about healthy decision making and strategies for planning a fun and safe birthday celebration, as well as a personal message from parents and family members and a gift card for a free beverage at Starbucks in the HUB-Robeson Center.

To provide further visibility for the initiative on campus, Health Promotion and Wellness will send e-cards to all students during the month of their 21st birthday as part of their ongoing alcohol education outreach. E-cards will include a short birthday message and a link to video content that shares safe-drinking strategies for students who choose to include alcohol as part of their birthday celebration.  

The overall goal of the initiative is to provide parents and students with tools and resources to reduce risky and dangerous drinking behaviors often associated with 21st birthday celebrations.

The Talk About a Celebration campaign is supported by the Penn State Parents Fund. The Parents Fund ensures that a wide variety of Student Affairs programming and resources are available to every Penn State student. 

(Media Contacts)

Last Updated September 06, 2018