Pictured: Melanie Austin helped secure a $30,000 grant to address alcohol awareness among students and student-athletes.
NYIT student-athletes will be safer and make better choices with respect to alcohol as the result of a new grant from the NCAA.
New York Institute of Technology received the 2019 NCAA CHOICES Alcohol Education Grant, which is sponsored by the NCAA Sports Science Institute via the support of the Anheuser-Busch Foundation.
“The NCAA CHOICES Grant called for proposals from NCAA-sponsored institutions such as NYIT, which currently provide alcohol education and events, to build upon their current programming through innovative, evidence-based approaches for addressing alcohol awareness for students and student-athletes,” said Melanie Austin, O.T.D., M.P.A., faculty athletics representative and assistant professor of occupational therapy, who helped secure the grant. “As NYIT’s faculty athletics representative and as a wellness and health behavior clinician and researcher, the call for proposals presented a unique opportunity to address the social, emotional, environmental and healthy lifestyle behaviors necessary for student and student-athlete success and well-being utilizing an inter-professional and multidisciplinary approach.”
The grant award is $30,000 over a three-year period. Student-athletes will begin to see the benefits as they return to campus for the fall semester.
NYIT BEAR CHOICES student and student-athlete project leaders will consist of a dozen student and student-athlete leaders who will be trained in peer education and coaching, strategic planning, basic research, health-behavior change, social and group dynamics, athletics 101, alcohol prevention, sports medicine, community-service learning, and safety skills.
That leadership team will develop and implement student-centered alcohol awareness and alcohol-related healthy lifestyle behavior resources for incoming freshmen, sophomores, juniors, and seniors as well as one high school community.
The average student-athlete will have the opportunity to engage in interviews, focus groups and surveys during Year 1 of the grant period, leading to the creation of a BEAR CHOICES Campaign and enhanced student-led interventions in Year 2 of the grant period.
“The ultimate goal will be to provide the campus and community with innovative student-centered, social programming aimed at reducing high-risk alcohol-related behavior while promoting healthy lifestyle behaviors in Year 3 and beyond the grant period,” Austin said.
In addition to Austin, the BEAR CHOICES administrative, research, athletic, and health/medical team includes Dan Vélez, M.S., director of athletics; Gordon Schmidt, Ph.D., dean of NYIT School of Health of Professions; Hallie Zwibel, D.O., assistant professor and director of the NYIT Center for Sports Medicine; Joan O’Connor, counselor III in Counseling and Wellness; Christina Finn, Ed.D., assistant professor of occupational therapy; Zennabelle Sewell, interim dean of students; and Adrienne McNally, M.S., director of experiential education.
By Adam Rubin