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Hello Sunday Morning

NU begins alcohol-free program

By Audrey Seaman
On December 8, 2010


With a culture heavily involved with drinking, Norwich University's Substance Abuse and Prevention Office is the first in the United States to become involved in an alcohol-free program developed in Australia, according to the director of the office.

‘Hello Sunday Morning' is the name of the program created by Chris Raine, a 24-year-old from Brisbane, Australia. It began as a simple idea, to prove "that you don't need alcohol in your life to be confident or to be yourself" Raine said.

HSM began in 2008, when Raine decided to go one year without consuming alcohol, going against the Australian culture that is embedded with drinking. The program grew organically, and is now "an incredible opportunity to learn about yourself," Raine said.

At Norwich, "38 students are taking part in our own ‘Hello Sunday Morning' pledge, challenging students to go 90 days without drinking alcohol to see what high potential they reach," said Gail Mears, the director of the Alcohol and Substance Abuse Prevention Office.

All participants are entered into a $200 cash prize raffle for simply entering, according to Mears.

Since Oct. 15, these students have been experiencing life completely sober and the challenge will continue on until Jan. 15, according to Mears. NU is acting as, "the guinea pigs of the program," Raine said in a blog to the first international participants of Norwich. "Treat it as an experiment and make the most of it," was his advice.

"(It's) a great opportunity to share your experiences with others and help them realize that there are different activities other than drinking," said George Sawyer, a 22-year-old civil engineer senior from West Rutland, Vt.

For Sawyer, the program hasn't been extremely challenging, because he doesn't drink anyway, but it provides some incentive to continue living an alcohol-free life.  

Rather than drinking on a Friday or Saturday night, Sawyer spends his time "camping, watching movies, and visiting friends." Being involved in this program will allow students to meet and support each other and come together as a non-drinking culture, according to Sawyer.

Another participant, sophomore C. William Thaxter, 19, an architecture major from Pepperell, Mass., took the pledge not only for the cash prize raffle, but because he chooses not to drink already.

The program is a way to give awareness to those who do not drink, those who are trying to stop, and those trying to lower their consumption, and rewarding them in their efforts, according to Thaxter.

 "Drinking is part of the Norwich culture," Sawyer said. "There is not a lot to do on campus, so people chose to drink."  This program will hopefully encourage other students to challenge themselves, according to Sawyer.

At the beginning of next semester, the Substance Abuse and Prevention Office is hoping to challenge a new group of students to a 30-day alcohol free period. The shorter length may be easier for students to pledge, and may encourage them to continue challenging themselves, according to Mears.

With the next group, Mears hopes the participants meet to discuss what they are going through.

"Getting together and seeing others with the same mindset on drinking is a great idea. This way you can recognize those who share a common moral goal, and build connections and forge relationships with these people," Thaxter said.

"I am proud to hear that Norwich is taking the initiative and opportunity to bring this program to its students. This is just another example of Norwich's trend setting reputation," Thaxter said.

If Norwich is successful the program can spread to other universities to encourage people to live a sober life, according to Mears.

"We have always viewed Americans to really go for it, so it will be interesting to see how this works in the States," Raine said. "Push yourselves, and enjoy yourselves."

If interested in taking part in the ‘Hello Sunday Morning' program, visit the Substance Abuse and Prevention Office in Wise Campus Center. "We promote a life that revolves around living, not one that revolves around drinking," Raine said.

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