The Transylvania Times -

Students Learn Lessons About Underage Drinking – Brevard, NC


Last updated 8/17/2020 at 1:06pm

Brevard Police Chief Phil Harris (far right) speaks to students.

The C.A.R.E. Coalition of Transylvania County, along with the ABC Board of Transylvania County, Brevard College and the Brevard Police Department, recently teamed up to provide underage drinking prevention workshops for incoming college freshmen. The workshop was also recently held at Davidson River School.

The workshop is part of a larger mission of the C.A.R.E. coalition to tamp down underage drinking, and required students to pass through a series of games and obstacle courses while wearing impairment goggles that simulate the affects of drug and alcohol influence.

"We're able to catch these students at the beginning of their college career and say, 'There are a bunch of ways to have fun in college,'" said Brevard Police Chief Phil Harris. "You can learn, take advantage of what Transylvania County has to offer – all the natural beauty and recreation. You can mix that together with your experiential Brevard College education and do all this in a safe manner, if you will resist falling into what a lot of college students do. Wait until you are of age until you consume alcohol."

Harris partnered with Tim Powers, criminal justice program coordinator at Brevard College, who created the workshop's curriculum.

The impairment goggles simulates different levels of alcohol intoxication, ecstasy intoxication and more. Students were asked to complete tasks, such as walking along a curvy sidewalk, playing corn hole, walking a straight line and driving a golf cart through an obstacle course. Powers said each cone along the obstacle course they considered a "pedestrian." Very few students were able to make it through the course without hitting them.

True to Brevard College's "experiential" emphasis on learning, Powers said part of the reason he believed the workshop would be effective was its interactive elements, such as the impairment goggles and learning from fellow students.

The workshop activities were led by student peer leaders, some of whom had been in trouble for alcohol consumption and were able to give real-life advice on the consequences of irresponsible drinking.

The workshop activities were coupled with information about drug and alcohol use, such as how many drinks it takes a man and woman to reach a certain blood alcohol level and drunk driving statistics for Transylvania County. To participate in the workshop activities, students had to correctly answer questions related to the information.

Students collected signatures on a card for each workshop activity completed and, at the end, had the chance to win prizes provided by funding secured by the local ABC Board. The ABC Board also supplied funding for the impairment goggles. Additionally, students took a test at the end of the workshop to see what they learned.

Powers regularly partners with community agencies, and the Brevard College Criminal Justice program has a close relationship with both the C.A.R.E. Coalition and the Brevard Police Department.

Harris is an adjunct professor at the college and said forming strong community relationships between his department and the college is an important goal for him.

"A lot of those students have had no contact with police, or they've had negative contacts with the police," he said. "If we wait on the (student needing) to call their local police department, then almost always the initial contact, if not negative, it's at least a very difficult and stressful situation. I want them to know that they don't have to wait until they absolutely need us in a crisis. Stop by. The second thing is, I think a lot of people see a report in the national news and think that's what it must be like all over, and it's not. It's different. I want them to know they don't have anything to be afraid of with the police. And they also have a potential to have a career...So, as first year students, I wanted to open their eyes about this community and not just the college."

Powers eventually hopes the workshop will travel to all middle and high schools in the county, with the help of college students administering the activities.

"If I stand in front of a group of students and talk about drug and alcohol prevention, they think, 'Ok, old man,'" Powers said.

But if they hear the same information coming from people their age, Powers said, that's when he believes there is a potential for connection.


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