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Friday, May 11, 2001

"Safe Choices Neighborhood Program Announced"

SALISBURY, MD---Salisbury State University athletes, student leaders and neighborhood block captains will join forces with residents in the Princeton Homes and North Camden Avenue neighborhoods in an effort to build better student and city resident relationships. 

The program, Safe Choices, Building a Community of Care, funded by a three-year grant from the National Collegiate Athletic Association, will provide educational and community-building activities in the two neighborhoods starting this fall.  

“We are excited about this program,” said SSU President Janet Dudley-Eshbach. “Students are educated about their responsibilities as members of a community, neighborhoods are strengthened and permanent residents have an opportunity to become more fully engaged in University life.” 

“Working with the University during the past two years, we have learned that building relationships between students and residents is the most effective way to enhance the quality of life in Salisbury neighborhoods,” said Salisbury Mayor Barrie P. Tilghman.  

Ten teams, consisting of two student-tenants living in the neighborhood and a block captain recruited by the neighborhood association, will be the key elements in the success of Safe Choices. Each team will be assigned a two-block area of approximately 15 households where many of them are students; the teams will engage neighbors in their Safe Choices projects. 

As students move into these neighborhoods at the beginning of the semester, they will be given a welcome packet containing alcohol education materials, and information on city services and ordinances and University programs and resources.   

Team members, when delivering these packets, will also address unsafe behaviors linked with alcohol abuse and encourage students to use the SSU Student Government Association’s Safe Ride Program and to register their parties with the SGA. Registration will afford the party host the opportunity to meet with a community police person and review pertinent laws, risk management information and ways to promote safety and positive choices about alcohol.

Other team projects will include conducting a neighborhood needs assessment survey, identifying poor housing conditions, soliciting interest in establishing a neighborhood crime watch, creating a neighborhood directory and newsletter, and sponsoring a community service project to build bonds and a feeling of belonging between students and residents.

Those non-student residents participating in the assessment will receive tickets to SSU athletic events and gift packs of sample toiletries.

“Many of these ideas came from meetings of the Salisbury Neighborhood Compact,” said Jennifer Berkman, SSU director of student health services and Safe Choices project director. If successful, Berkman hopes the program can be expanded into other neighborhoods. Safe Choices, Building a Community of Care, was made possible through a $30,000 grant from the  NCAA Alcohol Education Program.


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