Thursday, March 21, 2019

Invite the “Own the Upside…Avoid the Downside” Trailer to Visit Your Organization!

Invite the “Own the Upside…Avoid the Downside” Trailer to Visit Your Organization!

We are proud to offer an exciting new resource to educate parents of teens in our community, offered in partnership with the Polk County Sheriff’s Foundation. The “Own the Upside…Avoid the Downside” trailer is a mobile, interactive exhibit housing a replica of a teens’ bedroom that parents can walk through to learn how to recognize clues signaling potential involvement in drugs and risky behaviors visible in plain sight or easily concealed in everyday items and seemingly ordinary belongings in the room.

Civic groups and organizations can support efforts to encourage healthy behaviors and reduce substance abuse by inviting an Own The Upside representative to visit with the “Own the Upside…Avoid the Downside” trailer and share an informative presentation. Call (863) 802-0777 or visit the OTUS web site at to arrange a presentation or for additional information.

UthMpact Class VIII Leadership Days 2019


UthMpact participants in Leadership Class VIII have been busy taking part in hands-on learning activities.
The Leadership Program, spearheaded by InnerAct Alliance, StandUP Polk Coalition, UthMpact Coalition, and key business and community partners, is designed to help teens develop crucial leadership skills and entails a two-day summer retreat; six Leadership Days spent traveling throughout the community to meet with local leaders and enjoy behind-the-scenes tours; partnership on Social Norms and Social Marketing Campaigns to deliver key substance abuse prevention messages to teens by their peers; as well as participation in dozens of awareness and volunteer opportunities during the year. Learn more about this inspiring group of teens at

2019 Project Prom Store Ribbon Cutting & Formal Wear Shopping Days

2019 Project Prom Store Ribbon Cutting & Shopping Days

UthMpact’s 7th Annual Project Prom effort is off to a successful start providing formal wear and accessories to deserving high school teens in exchange for signing a pledge to make smart, healthy decisions on the night of prom.

On Saturday, February 23rd, Project Prom hosted a special Ribbon Cutting to celebrate the grand opening of the 2019 Project Prom Store, located in the old Sears wing at Lakeland Square Mall. We were honored to have Lakeland Mayor, Bill Mutz, on hand for the festivities. During the Grand Opening, over 40 students found beautiful prom attire to make their special night one to remember.

Additional shopping days are scheduled for Saturdays March 23 and April 6, from 10:00 a.m. to 2:00 pm., at the Project Prom store. Students with a Polk County School ID can sign a Project Prom Pledge to celebrate being drug-free and receive dresses and suits for FREE!

Community members are asked to support Project Prom by donating gently used dresses, shoes, purses, jewelry, men’s suits, ties, and accessories. Men’s pants and shirts in smaller sizes and plus size dresses for ladies are most needed. Donations may be dropped off on the shopping dates at the Project Prom Store or at the InnerAct Alliance office at 621 South Florida Avenue in Lakeland, weekdays from 8:30 am to 4:30 pm.

Risky behaviors tend to increase around prom and graduation season and Project Prom wants to remind students that they can have fun without engaging in those behaviors. Please visit the event Facebook page at for more information.

Changing Perception Can Change Behavior

Changing Perception Can Change Behavior

Peer pressure comes from feeling a need to do something one may not normally choose to do in hope of being accepted by those we perceive to be in the majority. Perception of what others think or do can be a powerful influence no matter our age, but pre-teens and teens are most susceptible because opinions of classmates and peers are becoming increasingly important. If kids are under the impression that they are among the few in their school who don’t drink, smoke, or use other substances, that becomes their perception - or their truth – and it may influence the choices they make. But what if their truth or perception isn’t really based in fact?
The Truth May Surprise You! Social Norms Campaigns can make a difference to help teens rethink their position and change perceptions about use of alcohol, tobacco, and other drugs. Students tend to be more receptive to listening to other students, especially those who are a little bit older and serving in leadership positions. UthMpact, the youth component of the drug free coalition for Polk County comprised of high school teen leaders, has taken an active role to “normalize” perceptions regarding risky behaviors by developing a social norm marketing campaign to share “UthMpact Facts”. This powerful peer to peer approach is based on statistics collected among Polk County youth and published in the annual Florida Youth Substance Abuse Survey (FYSAS). “UthMpact Facts” shares the reality that most POLK TEENS ARE MAKING THE RIGHT CHOICES by choosing NOT to drink, smoke, or use substances. This can help students avoid succumbing to peer pressure because they feel confident in making more informed personal decisions after knowing and considering all the facts.