Mears receives recognition for drug abuse prevention work

Gail Mears

Norwich University employee Gail Mears was recently honored for her work in the field of substance abuse prevention. Mears, the Director of Substance Abuse Education and Prevention at Norwich University, received the Kathy Fionda Award during the 2005 Vermont Substance Abuse Conference, held October 27-28 at the Lake Morey Resort in Fairlee.

The Vermont Substance Abuse Conference was founded to provide a regular forum for discussion of solutions to substance abuse issues. Founders of the event encourage the participation of all Vermonters with an interest in Substance Abuse, Prevention, Intervention, Enforcement, Treatment, Continuing Care and Recovery. The annual two-day conference features discussions, workshops and an award ceremony.

The Kathy Fionda Award recognizes a substance abuse professional who has shown excellence in alcohol and other drug abuse prevention. Kathy Fionda was a Student Assistance Professional at Barre Town School and one of the original SAPs in Vermont.

Mears is responsible for alcohol/drug education and intervention with students as well as prevention efforts at Norwich University. She also co-directs a group on campus called NU Gorilla Theater. These students hold education performances with themes of substance abuse and the interrelated consequences (unwanted sexual advances, dating violence and other social issues). The theater group travels to high schools and other colleges to perform their gritty, humorous skits designed to provoke discussions about the subjects.

"I was very surprised and honored to receive this award," Mears said. "I have had some pretty great experiences with the young adults on campus reviewing our current alcohol policies, helping to provide substance abuse education, and just getting to know the youth on campus who are interested in social change. It has been energizing to me and interesting to hear the diverse points of view and witness the students' openness to change," Mears said.