Team Camel April 30, 2009 Suicide-Awareness Advertising Campaign Introduction Implementing “change” could mean a number of things

, but our team had a heart for raising awareness about suicide on our campus. It’s a very real issue that hit home for several of us in the group that never gets brought up or talked about by anyone. After bouncing back-andforth between what method we would choose to carry out our suicide awareness effort, we landed at the doorstep of the University’s Counseling Center. We were handed a skeleton idea for a project—an ad campaign to target close friends to be on the lookout and refer troubled friends who might be at risk for suicide and in need of the Counseling Center’s services. It shocked us that 80% of students who commit suicide tell someone close to them before making an attempt, usually a friend. The problem was that none of these people they tell usually seek professional help for their friend because of the stigmatism it carries in telling. The University had wanted to do the campaign for some time now, but it lacked the man power to push around the ideas and develop a final product that would serve asbe an effective advertising campaign. As a team, we churned around the information that was provided for us and worked to create the campaign. Our ultimate goal was to reach out to students and not only reduce the stigma of reaching out for help, but hopefully increase the number of students referred by friends. Even if we reached one person, it could be a life saved and worthy of our hard work. We learned that once a suicidal student was referred to the Counseling Center’s program, there was well over a 90% success rate for students getting back on track again after participating in only the 4 mandated sessions. For us, this went beyond a class project—we truly wanted to use this time to help our own community. Goals Team Camel had several goals at the beginning of our project and as time pressed forward, we realized that we had to narrow our goals down in order to accomplish some successes. We began the project with an overarching goal of raising awareness of suicide on our campus amongst students. We wanted to do this by providing students with information about situations in which suicide has taken place on our campus, along with discussing ways in which we could all work together to prevent suicide. After doing more research and meeting with Herb Jones from Housing, we decided that we would narrow the focus of our project from simply


raising suicide-awareness on campus, to raising awareness about the help that is available for students who may be suicidal. We eventually learned from Paul Joffee, the suicide exporter at the Counseling Center, that our advertising campaign should target the peers of a potentially suicidal student. This knowledge was a turning point for our team because we felt that if we could help students understand the signs of suicide and how they could get help for their friends, we would most definitely be contributing towards significant change on campus. With our new goal in mind that focused on raising awareness of the suicide prevention services on campus, Team Camel set another goal that centered on making sure our advertisements reached the students directly. We wanted the students whom we were targeting to feel connected to our message. By specifically targeting the peers of a potentially suicidal person, we felt our message would encourage them to pay more attention and internalize the information we were providing. As students, we know what it is like to receive several messages a day via through various mediums. In order to combat the information overload students may experience, Team Camel felt it that it was imperative to make sure that the messages we were depicting connected to the experiences of life on campus. Through our narrative- based ads we knew we would be pursuing our goal centered on raising awareness for suicide prevention services. Our last goal for our suicide-awareness advertising campaign dealt with the project’s sustainability and potential expansion. We felt that it was important for our project to continue beyond our leadership class because of how important our message was. In order to raise awareness with the hopes of reducing suicide rates, it would take much more work than a single semester afforded. In order to ensure our project’s sustainability beyond our class we have begun a partnership with an organization with a similar set of goals as our own, To Write Lover on Her Arms. We plan on meeting with Lindsay Bailey, the President of TWLOHA, next week to discuss taking over what we have begun. Throughout our project Team Camel believed that the more students we could reach, the better our outcome would be. Now that we have initiated a partnership with TWLOHA we know that our advertising campaign will have an impact on a large number of students.


Planning and Action From the first meeting we had our minds in action mode. With a team name decided upon, we then discussed what our team guidelines and policies should be. The goal of our meetings were usually established with an agenda and concluded with a discussion of next steps. It seems like the process has developed over a year rather than a few months. The plan for our suicide-awareness advertisement campaign came from hours of brainstorming, much debating, and a great deal of collaborating. We started with a grand advertising campaign with handouts, magnets, and commercials. Once the reality of our time constraint set in, our grand plan evolved into an advertisement campaign partnered with the Counseling Center. Once our group knew that our mission was going to be raising suicide-awareness on campus, the group then united to build our resources based on our relevant university and community based contacts. We first met with Herb Jones from Housing who was happy to assist us with not only the resources to display our campaign, but also the equipment to make it happen. With our initial idea being a public service announcement that would be shown in housing as well as the FY-care mandatory orientations, we wanted to make sure our commercial had a proper tone and a serious message. We next set up appointments with Paul Joffe, a renowned expert on student crisis and suicide awareness. In talking with Mr. Joffe, he shared a detailed explanation of the background for suicide on our campus. He also surprised our group with the support he wanted to continue to give. Mr. Joffe mentioned that the Counseling Center had wanted to do a similar campaign, but because their time and resources were in high demand our group would be a great tool to get the creative and marketing drive initiated. We met Paul biweekly and had follow up meetings as a group to formulate our campaign ideas based on his suggestions and our interpretations. At each one of our group meetings the creativity got deeper and the message more real. Once we figured out how needed our campaign was, to both the center and the University as a whole, our desire for success became more apparent. Our team knew we needed to determine how and where we would display our work. We talked with the CU-MTD and revisited the housing option. The MTD has agreed to display two campaigns a month on all of the 90 buses that circulate both throughout the community and the campus. In talking to the Housing division, we learned that we could place one of our advertisements in an information magazine they would be providing all of their residents next fall. Our group is especially excited about the


Housing magazine, as it will most remain in most rooms as a more permanent resource. We also knew the semester would one day come to an end so we made a contact list and projected budget for Paul. The contact list included our new partner Lindsay Bailey, as well as contacts of all the RSO offices, Greek offices, Union Marketers, and other locations that would potentially distribute our campaign. Suggested Future Steps For our suicide-awareness advertising campaign we have multiple future steps we would pursue if our class project extended beyond this semester. A major concern our team had for our advertising campaign revolved around its sustainability. As of our last meeting with Paul Joffee, we have provided the Counseling Center with enough finalized mock ups for our advertising campaign to last through the next fall semester. Not only are we are very excited that we were able to start up a semester long suicide-awareness advertising campaign, we are even more thrilled to be passing on the project to a new RSO at the University, To Write Love on Her Arms. We initiated a partnership with TWLOHA because this group, like our Team, is dedicated to presenting hope and finding help for people struggling with depression, addiction, self-injury and suicide. We have just heard back from the RSO’s President, Lindsay Bailey, and have set up a meeting during finals week to discuss the TWLOHA taking over our advertising campaign. Now that Team Camel has begun a partnership with TWLOHA we have a few suggestions for the group in regards to the next steps for the advertising campaign. A major step for our advertising campaign would be to set up a focus group for the campaign towards the end of fall semester. To our knowledge, the Counseling Center has never led a campaign like ours before, so obtaining feedback from students in regards to the effectiveness of our narrative driven ads would be crucial for the campaign’s overall success. After receiving feedback from their focus group, TWLOHA could then determine the direction for the campaign. Along with gathering feedback and determining the campaign’s direction, we would also suggest that TWLOHA create an annual suicide awareness ad for the Housing magazine given to all Housing residents at the beginning of the year. The steps laid out above will hopefully address our campaign’s sustainability, our team’s most prominent concern for our project. What We Learned It was a wonderful experience to be given the opportunity to apply what we have learned about teamwork in our classroom to a real life project. Our goals have been achieved and 4

definition of success has been attained, but we have come to realize that teamwork is a process;. aA process that can be difficult and time consuming, fun and exciting, productive and unproductive, and filled with consensus decisions in addition to periods of constructive conflict. In almost all of our decisions, we used the method of collaboration and now understand that it does really take a long time. Even collaborating over simple things, such as a day we would meet was time consuming, difficult, and a bit frustrating! At the same time, there were benefits to the method of collaboration; the quality of ideas and decisions were often high, and we believe that not a single member of our group could have accomplished our goals or could have achieved the same success alone. Effectively, we have learned that a whole is greater than the sum of their parts. This was especially true when talking about creativity. As a team, we were able to branch off each other’s ideas, brainstorm together, and come up with much more effective print advertisements for the campaign than if we had just worked alone. Teamwork is definitely an interesting process; we admit that we experienced the phenomenon ofat punctuated equilibrium mentioned in class. Sometimes, we would experience periods of inactivity, such as talking for an hour about random things before noticing the time crunch and then swiftly switching from focusing on relationships to focusing on the task at hand! Our team’s development was shockingly similar to Tuckman’s 5 stages. We all remember the “forming” stage clearly; we all went to TGIFriday’s for dinner to discuss our initial ideas. Everyone was extremely polite, made sure not to interrupt anyone, and made a clear effort not to shoot down anyone’s idea. Once we got to know each other better, we entered the “storming” phase, almost kind of like constructive conflict; picking apart each other’s ideas, struggling over goals and processes, using phrases such as, “Wait, why are we doing this again?”


The storming phase then entered the “norming” phase; our struggle became productive, we eventually settled on an idea for the project and worked together to develop our goals. Next was “performing,” in which we came together to prepare our meetings with Paul Joffe and our presentation for the class. A stage we have yet to really think about is “adjourning.” We have become such a close team that just the thought of going our separate ways makes it all a little bittersweet. Overall, we have all agreed that this was by far the best team experience we have had during our college career. The amount of accountability and trust among our team was outstanding. Cohesion among our group members created a safe and trusting space for open communication and the expression of opinions. In the process we have learned to become more effective listeners and come to understand we each have our own individual strengths, attributes that makes us all great leaders when contributing to a team. Great job on your project, CAMEL. Your group shows the best potential for long-term impact from your work, and I believe this is a direct function of your ability to collaborate with others and see your goals as flexible while not compromising your core outcomes. Your paper was descriptive and clear, and while it was a little light on bringing in the class curriculum, you did a great job of showing the need for work in the area of suicide prevention. Overall, great job! Paper = 140/150 Presentation = 40/40


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