May 30 - June 15
The Play It Safe Project is a 29 year old statewide prevention project targeting high school graduates who celebrate their graduation either in their hometown or at the beach in Ocean City, Maryland. It has been coordinated by the Worcester County Health Department in partnership with the Ocean City Drug and Alcohol Abuse Prevention Committee, Inc. with support from the Town of Ocean City and the Maryland Alcohol and Drug Abuse Administration’s Prevention Coordinator Network.
The Project’s mission and message is to encourage responsible celebration fun – without the use of alcohol or other drugs. This message seeks to reduce specific risk factors while increasing specific protective factors. It is a multi-faceted prevention program that utilizes 5 of the 6 Center for Substance Abuse Prevention (CSAP) Components including: Dissemination of information, Prevention education, Alternative activities, Community-based process, Environmental approaches and Problem identification and referral. The Project has evolved into a blend of Health Promotion Activities, Youth Prevention Activities, Community Crime Prevention Activities, and Law Enforcement efforts
This project is an example of successful community empowerment and collaboration with more than 250 local partners. The Ocean City Committee through its many volunteers is responsible for: 1) the development, printing and distribution of the Play It Safe booklets; 2) the development, promotion and staging of 50 free, alternative drug-free events for visiting high school graduates in Ocean City; and 3) the local and regional media promotion of the project’s message, to have fun, while making informed choices, without the use of alcohol and other drugs. The Ocean City Police Department provides the security and law enforcement component by implementing compliance checks, as well as, providing identification verification training for servers in the resort community. The Department of Public Works assures that the space is reserved for boardwalk based events and the liability insurance is secured. The Recreation Department provides staffing, equipment, and site locations and pays for referees as needed. The Transportation Department provides thousands of dollars of free use of the bus service provided the graduates are wearing a wristband that can only be obtained at the Play It Safe events.
Since 1995, the Town of Ocean City has appropriated supplemental funding for Play It Safe each year, most recently contributing $7,500 in annual funding. In addition, over 300 of Ocean City citizens, businesses and civic organizations donated money, prizes, or food to the project. Attendance at Play It Safe activities has steadily grown over the 29 years since its inception. Approximately 350 graduates attended 3 events in 1991. In 2017 there were 6,200+ attendees at 43 free events with more then 100 volunteers contributing 700 + hours.
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Play It Safe Ocean City is governed by the
Ocean City Drug & Alcohol Abuse Prevention Committee, Inc.