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One healthy fright

From left to right, Alaini Priebe, Brittany Hanzlik and Samantha Horne, members of UNK Peer Health, volunteered in the Ok’SOBER’fest event at KneeKnocker Woods.
From left to right, Alaini Priebe, Brittany Hanzlik and Samantha Horne, members of UNK Peer Health, volunteered in the Ok’SOBER’fest event at KneeKnocker Woods.

Peer Health hosts annual Ok’SOBER’fest

Sydnee Bartruff

In an effort to help students make wise choices this Halloween season, UNK Peer Health hosted its annual Ok’SOBER’fest involving 13 acres of creepy woods, graveyards and zombies.

The outdoor Halloween attraction, KneeKnocker Woods, creates an enhanced experience with its amusement park quality animations. While it’s seen as entertainment for some, to others it’s encouraging a healthy lifestyle.

“We typically host (this event) every year around Halloween to give students a fun thing to do halloweekend that could potentially be an alternate to high risk behaviors such as excessive drinking,” said Alaini Priebe, a student leader of UNK Peer Health Education.

Through grant funding, the UNK Health Education Office provides fun alternate late night activities, educational presentations and a number of programs to the UNK student body.

Around 200 UNK students attended Ok’SOBER’fest this year. Along with being pleased with that number, Priebe said the annual event has “looked different every year.”

In the past during Halloween, Peer Health has put on movie nights, haunted houses, casino games, costume contests and even a fear factor competition.

The student organization’s ongoing attempts to bring awareness of the dangers of alcohol to other students have proved to be successful over the years. 

In 2007, UNK Counseling and Health Care submitted its strategic plan to the Nebraska Collegiate Consortium to Reduce High-Risk Drinking. CHC implemented and followed through with the 2007 strategies, and following this came a reduction in each of the problem issues over the past six years.

To ensure this positive trend, UNK established an Alcohol Taskforce in 2009 for the purpose of developing and implementing strategies as a part of the Nebraska Strategic Prevention Framework State Incentive Grant.

According to the Peer Health website, their vision is to see UNK “become the healthiest campus in the state.” Their motto, “A Place to Belong. Educate. & Learn.”,  echoes the organization’s culture and what they stand for.

Peer Health educators are UNK students who have dedicated time and resources to ongoing educational efforts on campus. Seven students make up the organization this semester.

“I really enjoy that while it’s a fun and relaxed environment, we are still getting to help others and plan events that everyone can enjoy,” Priebe said.

In addition to planning late-night activities, UNK Peer Health offers a service called Safe Ride, a safe, free ride home from the bars or a party with proof of ID. Priebe reported that in August, Safe Ride gave 20 rides a month, and in September, the number increased to 30 rides. With programs such as Safe Ride and events like Kneeknockers Woods in Gibbon, UNK Peer Health continues to engage, educate and empower students on how to make wise choices.

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