August 31, 2023, Durham, NC – iRT President Dr. Janis Kupersmidt and Research Scientist Dr. Rebecca Stelter represented Prevention Central, a division of iRT, at the 2023 National Prevention Network (NPN) Conference in Birmingham, Alabama this month. Prevention professionals, coalition leaders, researchers, and federal partners gather at the NPN Conference each year to discuss recent research and best practices in the field of substance misuse prevention.
Prevention Central sponsored an exhibit booth at the 2023 NPN Conference to share its many programs with colleagues, including evidence-based media literacy and mindfulness education programs for the prevention of substance use, safe driving programs, and resources to support youth mentoring programs. Kupersmidt and Stelter were thrilled to meet attendees and discuss recent developments in the substance misuse prevention field, the needs of organizations in the field, and the resources Prevention Central provides to support the efforts of prevention programs, organizations, and coalitions.
In addition to the exhibit booth, Dr. Kupersmidt co-led an interactive workshop, entitled Evidence-Based Media Literacy Programs to Prevent Substance Abuse: Examples of Program Implementation and Expansion in Rural Communities, at the conference to introduce participants to the use of media literacy education as a strategy to prevent youth substance use. Kupersmidt shared findings from randomized controlled trial evaluations of three of iRT’s evidence-based media literacy education and substance use prevention programs: Media Detective for elementary school students, Media Ready for middle school students, and Media World for high school students. Over 80 session attendees had the opportunity to hear and discuss the results of these studies, including the programs’ impacts on students’ critical thinking skills and intent to use substances in the future. Participants also participated in several highly interactive media literacy activities to learn and practice basic media literacy skills that are taught in iRT’s programs.
Sara Harrell, Supervisor for the Prevention and Training Branch of the Guam Behavioral Health and Wellness Center, co-presented with Kupersmidt to share the state of prevention efforts in Guam, her journey from learning about iRT to getting her team trained in iRT’s three media literacy education programs, and her experience implementing iRT’s media literacy education programs in the rural community of Guam. Harrell discussed how the COVID-19 pandemic impacted Guam’s prevention programming and described her team’s utilization of Media World to launch a media production summer camp with PBS Guam for 10 high school students. Harrell concluded with an inspirational anecdote about the importance of patience and perseverance in the field of prevention. Several years prior to her 2023 NPN presentation, Harrell attended a live conference session presented by Kupersmidt and was inspired to implement media literacy education programming in her community. After years of hard work and patience, her team was able to obtain funding and launch prevention programming in their local community, and Harrell is now able to share her story with others.