Senior works towards substance-abuse free community


SUMMARY: As an intern with the University of Virginia Gordie Center, senior kinesiology major Morgan Hardt helped plan a national substance abuse education conference for NCAA student-athletes.

By: Caroline Whitlow
Creative Services Student Writer

PHOTO: Morgan Hardt As an intern with the University of Virginia Gordie Center, senior kinesiology major Morgan Hardt helped plan a national substance abuse education conference for NCAA student-athletes.  Over 200 students and administrators attended the NCAA-funded conference, held outside of Washington, D.C.

Hardt learned of the opportunity while completing her practicum at the JMU Plecker Athletic Performance Center, where she worked to reduce substance abuse by creating informational posters on topics ranging from binge drinking to nonprescription Adderall use. 

“Substance abuse is a huge issue that needs to be talked about more, not just on college campuses but everywhere,” said Hardt.  “I think it’s interesting how something like that develops and affects a culture so quickly.”

While researching for the booklets, Hardt came across the Gordie Center’s APPLE Training Institute.  The institute uses the metaphor of an apple with seven different slices (recruitment, expectations, drug testing, sanctioning, policies, education, and counseling referrals) to provide a comprehensive model for colleges to promote healthy decision making within their community of student athletes.  A student-athlete herself, Hardt was fascinated by their mission and began searching for a way to get involved.

 “I emailed their program manager, Holly Deering.  She actually graduated from JMU, so we connected through that,” said Hardt.  “I asked if there were any internships available and interviewed with them.  Fortunately, they granted me the opportunity.”

Throughout the summer, Hardt commuted to the institute in Charlottesville twice weekly.  She performed numerous administrative and organizational tasks.

“My job was to communicate with about 40 schools and help to create and organize the booklet for the program.  Basically, I was program planning and providing support in any way possible.  Communication was a really big part of it,” said Hardt.

The internship challenged Hardt, teaching her to balance the vast array of details that come with planning a large event.

“It was a huge test to my organizational skills.  I’ve always prided myself on those skills, but if one little thing was misplaced it would throw everything off,” said Hardt.  “I took a lot of notes, that’s for sure.”

Although Hardt’s busy schedule as a lacrosse player prevented her from attending the conference, she heard that it was a success.   “We had around 250 participants that can take what they learned back to their schools,” said Hardt.

Hardt’s work with substance abuse prevention and recovery goes beyond the internship.  She worked with a recovery program at RMH Behavioral Health in 2016. Currently, Hardt facilitates an alcohol education restorative practices program at the Office of Student Accountability and Restorative Practices.  She believes that drug and alcohol education is imperative to promoting overall wellness.

“In kinesiology, we focus on all of these factors that promote longevity in life, like fitness and nutrition.  We don’t always look at negative factors that can come about and impact those things,” said Hardt.  “It’s so important to give light to these issues and understand them.”

After she graduates, Hardt hopes to continue within the field of substance abuse education or seek other ways of helping young adults.

“I hope I will get my master’s and work for the DEA one day, but that is a long process,” said Hardt.  “My short-term goal would be to work on a college campus, because these are such important years developmentally and I hope to help students in any way possible.”

Published: Monday, January 8, 2018

Last Updated: Monday, January 8, 2018

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