A student group at Pittsburg State University has garnered national attention for its efforts to help students combat the stresses of college life.

“Do The Gorilla Thing,” a program of the Gorillas In Your Midst peer education group, was selected as the Outstanding Prevention Program at the 2013 BACCHUS Network General Assembly in Reston, Va.

The “Do The Gorilla Thing” campaign is a campuswide program that translates to “Do The Right Thing” when it comes to diversity, vision, honor, academics and leadership, according to Gorillas In Your Midst adviser J.T. Knoll. The program aims to educate PSU students, particularly incoming freshmen, about substance abuse, mental health, stress management and bystander behavior.

“The purpose of this program is to have students take pride in being a Gorilla and associating being a Gorilla with doing the right thing,” Knoll said. “There are a lot of chances to make poor decisions when you’re in college, and our program was set up to encourage students to invest in good decisions.”

Knoll said being recognized by BACCHUS, a national peer education network, further validates the success of the program.

“It’s a great honor, and we’re proud to receive it,” he said. “What’s most important, however, is knowing that the program works and helps students make decisions that will benefit them today, tomorrow and later in life.”

The group presented “Do The Gorilla Thing” at the national conference, and it didn’t take long before other universities started thinking of creating a similar program.

“Just a couple of weeks after the general assembly, we received an e-mail from a student at Bowling Green State University,” Knoll said. “The student said she was inspired by our presentation and is trying to start a program like ours at her university.”

Also at the General Assembly, Gorillas In Your Midst student member and “Do The Gorilla Thing” program coordinator Tambree Wilson received the Outstanding Peer Educator award.