“Let’s Talk” addresses community issues

By Jenna Epkey

“Let’s Talk” tackled needle sharing and other difficult topics in their interactive forum for IU East students, faculty, and members of the community.

The series is dedicated to bringing the most relevant health and social concerns to a discussion format, and broadcasts live on WETV Channel 20 in the Spring.  Audience members participate in this forum by calling in questions or posting questions to Facebook, where they consult with a doctor or nurse directly regarding issues being addressed.

Rosalie S. Aldrich, assistant professor of Communication Studies at IU East, began “Let’s Talk” five years ago with support from the School of Humanities and Social Sciences.

She had a vision to create a forum that covered issues currently impacting the community.

“This year there’s been a big health crisis with sharing needles and heroin overdosing. The idea to talk about heroin overdosing came up in one of the series’ meetings,” Aldrich said.

An episode featuring needle sharing aired March 22. The show does not shy away from discussing the hard issues. It has addressed topics ranging from sexually transmitted diseases, to HIV and AIDS. The series covered drug addictions in the past, but wanted to shed more light on the deadly epidemic of needle sharing, and how it currently affects communities right now.

IU East Senior Lecturer in Humanities Ange Cooksey moderates the series and helps plan the discussions. She enjoys belonging to a forum where the purpose is providing quality information to its audience. She said the series “gives a snapshot of what individuals and communities are really interested in.”

An increase in audience participation has grown with these last few episodes.  When “Let’s Talk” first started, there were a total of 120 people who came to the live panel discussions, Aldrich said.
She shared figures from Eric Marsh, executive director of WCTV, who provided an estimation of viewers once the series started broadcasting live. Marsh estimated over the course of three “Let’s Talk” programs, the series could potentially reach 4,725 Wayne County residents.

Since episodes are repeated over the course of six weeks, the series could be viewed 14,175 times within the last three years.

More students and members of the community are reaching out and asking questions. “Let’s Talk” is a safe avenue to “let people know they are not alone,” Aldrich said.

Stay tuned for more cutting-edge topics and discussions in spring 2017. In the meantime keep up to date on facebook.com/iueletstalk.

The series is funded by IU East’s School of Humanities and Social Sciences and partners from Reid Health, United Way, WCTV, and the Area 9 Agency.

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