Thursday, December 22, 2011


Have you heard about the SAFE Coalition?
Do you know about SAFE Coalition activities?
Are you interested in making Van Buren County a SAFE place to live?

We encourage you to join the SAFE Coalition! Maybe one of your New Years Resolutions is to make a difference in your community or to volunteer more of your time. If this is true the SAFE Coalition is for you!

The SAFE Coalition is always in need of new members, especially parents of teens! We want your input on our activities and projects. Are we making a difference in the community and the lives of teens? We need your help to be sure that we are.

The SAFE Coalition has monthly meetings on the third Tuesday of each month. The next meeting will be held on January 17, 2012 at 2:00 pm at the Robert’s Memorial Building. Please come out to see what the coalition is working on and how you can be a part of the great work being done in Van Buren County!

We encourage you to check out our website at or contact us at 319-293-6412 for more information on how you can get involved with the coalition.


If all grownups created holiday wish lists at this time of year, the health and safety of children would surely be one of their most frequent requests. Yet holiday time delivers tragedy to many American families and their communities, thanks in part to the season’s increased rates of excessive alcohol use and underage drinking.

Students Against Destructive Decisions (SADD) described the challenge in a 2005 op-ed article:
Dancing and prancing through Jingle Bell Square, more than a few seasonal revelers mistake alcohol consumption for holiday celebration—teens included. Following the lead of influential adults, many young people are tempted, even encouraged, to finish up the old and ring in the new by, well, downing a few.

Thanks to concerted efforts by community-based prevention organizations, law enforcement, other community leaders, and family members, progress is being made in reducing underage drinking tragedies. For example, a National Highway Traffic Safety Administration fact sheet reported that fatal crashes involving 15- to 20-year-old drivers who had a blood alcohol content of .01 g/dL or higher dropped from 1,932 in 2000 to 1,210 in 2009—a 37 percent decrease.

Yet holidays seem to invite excess and rule-bending among many people of all ages—a risk for everyone, but particularly for vulnerable children and teens who use alcohol. In a 2010 report, SAMHSA found that on New Year’s Day 2009, there were an estimated 1,980 emergency department visits involving underage drinking compared to 546 such visits on an average day that year—a 263 percent increase. As SAMHSA Administrator Pamela S. Hyde, J.D., said:
This stunning increase in underage drinking related emergency room visits on New Year’s Day should be a wake up call to parents, community leaders and all caring adults about the potential risks our young people face for alcohol-related accidents, injuries and death during this time of year.

As SAMHSA also reminds us, prevention works, and all caring adults can help give young people the gift of health and safety this holiday season, and all year long, by doing their part to prevent underage drinking in their community. From planning an alcohol-safe and drug-free holiday season to modeling and supporting highway safety, we all can do something to protect those we care about—and that’s really worth celebrating.

Helpful Resources
The National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism has useful facts and tips for safe holidays. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration coordinates an annual winter holidays campaign to prevent impaired driving. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention offers pages of Holiday Health & Safety Tips. Young people can participate in prevention efforts with Holiday Activities developed by SADD.

You may also contact the Van Buren SAFE Coalition for help and information at 319-293-6412 or at The coalition also has resources and information available on the coalition’s website at, it’s blog at, or it’s face book page at Van Buren County SAFE Coalition.

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Give Your Loved Ones the Gift of Safety - Buzzed Driving is Drunk Driving

There will be many reasons to be merry this holiday season. And making sure that your loved ones enjoy themselves responsibly is one of the most reliable ways to guarantee their safety. That is why The SAFE Coalition would like everyone to embrace the spirit of driving sober this season.

The message is simple, drinking alcohol and driving do not mix. If you plan to consume alcohol, you should plan not to get behind the wheel of a vehicle or ride a motorcycle.

Unfortunately, millions of drivers on America’s highways continue to make deadly decisions by driving a vehicle or riding a motorcycle while intoxicated, which jeopardizes their safety and the safety of others on our roads.

The holiday season can be one of the deadliest and most dangerous times on America’s roadways due to drunk driving. Taking a risk on having your 2011 end in an arrest or death is just not worth it.

During December 2009, there were 753 people killed in crashes that involved drivers or motorcycle riders with blood alcohol concentrations of .08 grams per deciliter or higher.

The SAFE Coalition recommends these simple tips for a safe holiday season:
 Plan a safe way home before the festivities begin;
 Before drinking, designate a sober driver and leave your car keys at home;
 If you’re impaired, call a sober friend or family member;
 If you happen to see a drunk driver on the road, don’t hesitate to contact your local law enforcement;
 And remember, Buzzed Driving is Drunk Driving. If you know someone who is about to drive or ride with a driver who is impaired, take the driver’s keys and help them make other arrangements to get to where they are going safely.

For more information, please visit You may also contact the Van Buren SAFE Coalition at 319-293-6412 or at The coalition also has resources and information available on the coalition’s website at; on it’s blog at; or on it’s face book page at Van Buren County SAFE Coalition.

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Top 10 Reasons Not to Legalize Marijuana

In July 2011 the federal government reaffirmed marijuana as a Schedule I substance; i.e., no accepted medical use and high abuse potential. Therefore, its possession and use remains a federal crime. Since federal law preempts state law, marijuana would still be illegal in Iowa.

Proponents often make misleading statements about marijuana arrests and the jail population.

The wrong type of people would be attracted to Iowa and for the wrong reasons. We need tourists attracted by our rolling hills and relaxed environment, not as the Mecca for getting ‘stoned.’

If marijuana is legalized under Iowa law, our state would be considered the ‘POT CAPITAL’ of the nation. This notoriety would have a negative impact on attracting new businesses and families deterred by Iowa’s image and quality of life issues. This could also impact decisions to send students to Iowa institutes of higher education.

Substance abuse studies have shown that businesses and employers will experience greater rates of absenteeism, industrial accidents and tardiness as well as less productivity with a potential work force regularly using marijuana. This not only results in economic losses, but conflicts with the federal Drug Free Workplace requirements and companies losing federal contracts. Businesses would be less likely to stay or move into a state where drug use related risks are high.

At best, potential tax revenue generated by legalizing marijuana will cover only 15% of the collateral costs to our community such as: increased drug treatment, emergency room visits, crime, traffic accidents and school ‘drop-outs’ to name just a few of the costs related to marijuana use.

Marijuana use and its negative health, behavioral and societal impacts will increase among both youth and adults. The best estimates from experts project that the number of regular users would at least double and likely triple in the most vulnerable 12 – 25 age range.

Regular marijuana use can be addictive and lead to deteriorating behavior, particularly in young people. In 2009, 830,000 youth had marijuana addiction characteristics. Sixty-eight percent of youth in drug treatment are there for marijuana use.

As parents and citizens, we have a responsibility to prepare our youth for a healthy and successful future. The basis for their future lies in providing them with a quality educational environment. If marijuana was legalized, it is estimated that 20 – 30 percent of our school-aged children will become regular marijuana users. That will negatively affect their attendance, concentration, memory, brain development and thus academic achievement and participation in a positive educational setting.

Marijuana use affects coordination, decision-making and perception which directly results in impaired driving. People who drive after using marijuana are nearly twice as likely to be involved in a fatal car crash. Drivers, who tested positive for marijuana, after an accident, were more than three times as likely to be responsible for the fatal car crash. In the past ten years in Iowa in 25% of car accidents where the driver tested positive for drug use there was a fatality.


Friday, December 2, 2011

Kaizen- The philosophy of ongoing improvement

The Iowa Counterdrug Task Force recently provided a Kaizen event to the Van Buren County SAFE Coalition. They are offering this service to any substance abuse prevention coalition within the state of Iowa. The Kaizen is a quick, introspective survey with instant visual representation of the results in an easy to understand chart. Coalitions completing this survey will be able to use this information immediately, instantly applying this information to strengthen their coalition and their community.

What is the Coalition Kaizen Event (or “Kaizen”)
 A rapid improvement event for your coalition.
 30 minutes of a regular meeting are devoted to a member survey.
 The survey measures your members’ actual experience, action, and understanding vs. general perceptions or ratings of overall satisfaction.
 The survey is taken using “clickers” which allows for completely anonymous participation.
 The survey produces a highly visual diagnostic which is provided to the coalition within five minutes of completing the survey.
 The survey explores your coalition’s work in each of the twelve essential processes and the Strategic Prevention Framework.

The Van Buren County SAFE Coalition had a total of 27 members in attendance to take part in this process. The survey provided valuable feedback that the coalition will be reviewing over the course of the next few months in order to address areas that need attention. Coalition members who completed the process like the instant feedback and thought it was a great system to be able to quickly identify the strengths and weaknesses of the coalition.

For more information on this project or on how to get involved with the SAFE Coalition you may contact us at 319-293-6412 or visit us on the web at or “Like” us on Facebook!

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Give Yourself Something To Be Thankful For This Thanksgiving

The seasons are turning from warm summer days to cool crisp mornings and vibrant fall colors. The season for thanksgiving is upon us and this is a time to give thanks for all things important to you. While there are many things you may be thankful for in your life some may be dealing with the abuse of drugs and alcohol. The SAFE Coalition wants to take this opportunity to provide you with resources to assist you in your decision to become free of Drug Addiction. Keep in mind drug addiction includes addiction to alcohol and tobacco – they are considered drugs.

It takes courage and strength to face up to drug addiction. When you’re bogged down in drug abuse and drug addiction, sobriety can seem like an impossible goal. But recovery is never out of reach, no matter how hopeless your current situation seems.

Change is possible with the right treatment and support, and by making lifestyle changes that address the root cause of your addiction. Don’t give up, even if you’ve tried and failed before. There are many different roads to recovery, but almost all involve bumps, pitfalls, and setbacks. But by examining the problem and thinking about making the necessary changes, you’re already on your way. These seven steps will help you on your road.

1. Decide to make a change.
For many people struggling with addiction, the biggest and toughest step toward recovery is the very first one: deciding to make a change. It’s normal to feel conflicted about giving up your drug of choice, even when you realize it’s causing problems in your life. Change is never easy.

2. Explore your treatment options
Once you’ve made the decision to challenge your drug addiction, it’s time to explore your treatment choices. Options can be found online, by talking to your doctor or calling 1-800-662-HELP (4357)

3. Reach out for support
Don’t try to go it alone. Whatever treatment approach you choose, having a solid support system is essential. The more positive influences you have in your life, the better your chances for recovery. Recovering from drug addiction isn’t easy, but with people you can turn to for encouragement, guidance, and a listening ear, it’s a little less tough.

4. Learn healthy ways to cope with stress
Even once you’ve recovered from drug addiction, you’ll still have to face the problems that led to your drug problems in the first place. Did you start using drugs to numb painful emotions, calm yourself down after an argument, unwind after a bad day, or forget about your problems? After you become sober, the negative feelings that you used to dampen with drugs will resurface. For treatment to be successful, and to remain sober in the long term, you’ll need to resolve these underlying issues as well.

5. Keep triggers and cravings in check
While getting sober from drugs is an important first step, it’s only the beginning of the recovery process. Once sober, the brain needs time to recover and rebuild connections that have changed while addicted. During this time, drug cravings can be intense. You can support your continued sobriety by making a conscious effort to avoid people, places, and situations that trigger the urge to use.

6. Build a meaningful drug free life
You can support your drug treatment and protect yourself from relapse by having activities and interests that provide meaning to your life. It’s important to be involved in things that you enjoy and make you feel needed. When your life is filled with rewarding activities and a sense of purpose, your addiction will lose its appeal.

7. Don’t let relapse keep you down
Relapse is a common part of the recovery process from drug addiction. While relapse is understandably frustrating and discouraging, it can also be an opportunity to learn from your mistakes and correct your treatment course.

By taking the above steps to become free of addiction next thanksgiving you could be giving thanks for a sober life.

Information provided by Helpguide. Additional information can be found on their website at If you would like additional local assistance you may contact the SAFE Coalition at, by phone at 319-293-6412 or online at

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Great American Smokeout

The American Cancer Society is marking the 36th Great American Smokeout on November 17, 2011 by encouraging smokers to use the date to make a plan to quit, or to plan in advance and quit smoking that day. By doing so, smokers will be taking an important step towards a healthier life – one that can lead to reducing cancer risk.

Tobacco use remains the single largest preventable cause of disease and premature death in the US, yet more than 46 million Americans still smoke. However, more than half of these smokers have attempted to quit for at least one day in the past year.

In 1954, American Cancer Society researchers were among the first to link cigarette smoking to early death from lung cancer. In 2011, the Society continues to lead the charge to help people stay well by providing tools to help smokers quit.

Most people know that using tobacco can cause lung cancer, but few know it’s also a risk factor for many other kinds of cancer, including cancer of the mouth, voice box (larynx), throat, esophagus, bladder, kidney, pancreas, cervix, stomach, and some leukemia. It’s also linked to a number of other health problems, from heart disease and emphysema to stroke.

And there is no safe way to use tobacco. Cigars, pipes, and spit and other types of smokeless tobacco all pose serious health risks.

Need more motivation to quit? It takes just minutes for your body to start healing after you quit smoking. You can look forward to better circulation and lung function and an improved sense of taste and smell. And by not buying packs of expensive cigarettes, you’ll also be saving money – and in these times, every penny counts.

Five Keys for Quitting
1. Get ready.
Set a quit date. Change your environment. Get rid of ALL cigarettes and ashtrays in your home, car, and workplace. Don’t let people smoke in your home. Review your past attempts to quit – think about what worked and what didn’t. Once you quit, don’t smoke – NOT EVEN A PUFF!

2. Get support and encouragement.
Studies have shown that you have a better chance of being successful if you have help. Tell your family, friends, and coworkers that you are going to quit and want their support. Ask them not to smoke around you, and ask them to put their cigarettes out of sight.

Inform your health care provider (e.g., doctor, dentist, nurse, pharmacist, psychologist, or smoking counselor) about your decision to quit. Get individual, group, or telephone counseling. Programs are given at local hospitals and health centers. Call 1-800-227-2345 for information about programs in your area.

3. Learn new skills and behaviors.
Try to distract yourself from urges to smoke. Talk to someone, go for a walk, or get busy with a task. When you first try to quit, change your routine. For example, use a different route to work. Do something to reduce your stress – take a hot bath, exercise, or read a book. Plan to do something enjoyable every day. Drink a lot of water and other fluids.

4. Get medication, and use it correctly.
Medications can help you stop smoking and lessen the urge to smoke. The US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has approved the following medications to help you quit smoking:
•Available by prescription – Bupropion SR (Zyban), Varenicline (Chantix), nicotine inhaler, nicotine nasal spray
•Available over-the-counter – nicotine gum, nicotine patch, and nicotine lozenges
•Remember to ask your health care provider for advice and carefully read the information on the package.

5. Be prepared for a relapse or difficult situations.
Most relapses occur within the first three months after quitting. Don’t be discouraged if you start smoking again. Remember, most people try several times before they finally quit for good. Here are some difficult situations to watch for:
•Alcohol – When you drink alcohol, it lowers your chances of success. It’s best to avoid drinking.
•Other smokers – When you’re around people who smoke, it can make you want to smoke. It’s best to avoid them.
•Weight gain – Many smokers gain weight when they quit, usually fewer than 10 pounds. Eat a healthy diet, and stay active. Don’t let weight gain distract you from your main goal – quitting smoking. Some quit-smoking medications may help delay weight gain.
•Bad mood or depression – There are a lot of ways to improve your mood other than smoking.

Quitting is hard, but you can increase your chances of success with help. The American Cancer Society can tell you about the steps you can take to quit smoking and provide the resources and support that can increase your chances of quitting successfully. To learn about the available tools, call the American Cancer Society at 1-800-227-2345. You can also contact the SAFE Coalition at 319-293-6412 or at

Thursday, November 3, 2011

National Drug Facts Week 2011

What is National Drug Facts Week (NDFW)?
National Drug Facts Week is a health observance week for teens—an initiative of the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) of the National Institutes of Health, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. The goal of NDFW is to shatter the myths about drugs and drug abuse. It was celebrated from Monday October 31st through Sunday November 6th, 2011.

Who created National Drug Facts Week?
National Drug Facts Week was launched by the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA), part of the National Institutes of Health. NIDA scientists want to give teens the opportunity to learn what science has taught us about drug abuse and addiction amid the noise and clutter of drug myths they get from the internet, TV, movies, music, or from friends.

How did NDFW start?
In 2008, NIDA began hosting its annual Drug Facts Chat Day for teens, during which thousands of teens asked questions about drugs via a Web chat. Every year teens ask many more questions than the scientists can answer in a day. In response to this demonstrated interest NIDA developed NDFW, asking teens, schools and community groups all over America to hold their own "Q and A" events with local scientific experts.

What happens on NDFW?
Community-based "question and answer" teen-focused events, nationally televised messages and shows on drug facts, events on the web, and the announcement of the Grammy Foundation MusiCares video music contest winner, are the major happenings during NDFW.

What are NDFW Community-Based Events?
NDFW Community-Based Events are about shattering drug myths and getting the scientific facts about drugs and drug abuse. In Van Buren Community Schools the Youth Leadership Council (YLC) Members held a variety of events, they included:
Hall of Horrors: This display shows the number of casualties from all of the major wars. Each day new wars are added then at the end of the week the casualties in one year from tobacco, alcohol and other drugs is displayed to show that these numbers are higher than the wars.
Radio Interview: Two YLC Members promoted National Drug Facts week on KMEM’s Coffee Break radio show.
•Posters/Facts: Posters were hung all around the school with a “Did you know” fact. These facts helped shatter the myths about drugs, alcohol and tobacco.
Question of the Day: Each day a trivia question was asked during morning announcements. Students had to answer the question in the library to win a prize!
Teacher Presentations: Various teachers presented lessons in their classroom about the myths and facts of drugs, alcohol and tobacco during this week!
•Live Chat: Students were given the opportunity on Tuesday to chat live with a scientist to ask questions about drugs alcohol and tobacco and get the scientific facts.

Why participate in NDFW?
A third of high school seniors report using an illicit drug sometime in the past year, and more than ten percent report non medical use of a prescription painkiller. These data show that some teens are not aware of the risks of drug abuse. Even for those teens who do not abuse drugs, they may have friends or family who do, and may be looking for ways to help them. NDFW events’ encourage teens to get the scientific facts about drugs so they will make healthy decisions for themselves and share this information with others.

For more information on National Drug Facts Week call 301-443-1124 or visit the Web site You can also contact the SAFE Coalition at 319-293-6412 or at

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Youth Leadership Students Attend County Wide Training

By Meredith Miller

On October 25, 2011 there was a Youth Leadership Council (YLC) training held at the Roberts Building for Van Buren and Harmony Community Schools 7th – 12th grade YLC Members. At this training we did various activities to help us lead the way to being drug and alcohol free.

We participated in four different workshops that focused on teamwork, leadership, living above the influence and helping create a drug and alcohol free community. The National Guard held a workshop on team building. There were four different activities the YLC Members participated in that helped them to work together as a team. An Above the Influence activity was held that had the members thinking about the slogan for their life. Students were encouraged to brand themselves by coming up with a logo and a slogan that described them. They displayed their ideas on posters and t-shirts for all to see. Three students were chosen to have their designs submitted to ONDCP to be used in a local media campaign.

Everybody had a lot of fun and we all learned new things. It was very beneficial to help us come up with new ways to influence our peers to make good decisions. All of us who attended really appreciate the work that went into making this training happen.

Friday, October 21, 2011

October, 2011 is Bullying Prevention Month

The time to take action is now! Everyone has a voice in raising the awareness of bullying. Whether you are a student, educator, or parent, here are important points to know:
• More than 160,000 U.S. students stay home from school each day from fear of being bullied.
• Bullying directly affects a student’s ability to learn. Students who are bullied find it difficult to concentrate, show a decline in grades, and lose self-esteem, self-confidence, and self-worth.
• Students who are bullied report more physical symptoms, such as headaches or stomachaches, and mental health issues, such as depression and anxiety, than other students.
• In some cases, bullying has led to devastating consequences, such as school shootings and suicide.
• Bullying affects witnesses as well as targets. Witnesses often report feeling unsafe, helpless, and afraid that they will be the next target.
• Bullying is a communitywide issue that must no longer be ignored or thought of as a rite of passage. Students, parents, and educators all have a role in addressing bullying situations and changing school culture.
The two keys to creating change are:
o Increasing awareness that bullying has lifelong impact.
o Giving people the tools they need to respond effectively.
• Students can be especially effective in bullying intervention. More than 55 percent of bullying situations will stop when a peer intervenes. Student education of how to address bullying for peers is critical, as is the support of adults.
• Silence is no longer an acceptable response to bullying. Adults, students, and educators can no longer look away when they see bullying. Ignoring it won’t work. Everyone needs to be empowered with options to respond.

What DOES Work in Bullying Prevention: It DOES work to develop consensus among the whole community so they take action to discourage and interrupt low-level mean behavior before it becomes serious. Fire prevention and fire fighting are helpful analogies. We need firefighting teams to put out moderate-to-large fires. Yet we also need every individual to take action to reduce fire hazards. Similarly, we need parents, other adults, school administrators, teachers and counselors to intervene in more serious peer mistreatment. We also need people to be trained and ready to intervene by stopping the indirect use of biased speech or the small incidents of exclusion that can escalate into more serious behaviors. In addition, we can learn from firefighting that everyone in a community has an ethical responsibility to report fires. Similarly we need to see reporting peer mistreatment as a responsibility for all children rather than as “tattling.”

Information provided by: What Works in Bullying Prevention in Schools by Stan Davis and Pacer’s National Bullying Prevention Center at /bullying. Take time during the month of October to educate yourself about the signs and symptoms of bullying and what you can do to make a change.

If you are interested in more information on Bullying/Bullying Prevention please contact the SAFE Coalition at 319-293-6412 or or check for information online at or on Facebook – Van Buren County SAFE Coalition.

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Now More Than Ever...

By Susan B. Carbon
The Justice Department and the Office on Violence Against Women (OVW) join all our partners in recognizing October as National Domestic Violence Awareness Month. Since the Sept. 13, 1994 passage of the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA), there have been significant changes in society’s understanding of and response to violence against women – but there is much more that needs to be done to end domestic violence, sexual assault, dating violence and stalking.

Hundreds of thousands of victims have benefitted, and their lives forever changed, because of the resolve and commitment to end violence. This has been demonstrated not only by Congress, but by all those who have diligently worked so hard over the past 17 years to implement this legislation in their crisis centers, police departments, emergency rooms, prosecutors’ offices, courtrooms and communities.

In his proclamation marking October 2011 as National Domestic Violence Awareness Month, President Obama noted the effects of domestic violence, especially on young people and children:
… The ramifications of domestic violence are staggering. Young women are among the most vulnerable, suffering the highest rates of intimate partner violence. Exposure to domestic violence puts our young men and women in danger of long-term physical, psychological, and emotional harm. Children who experience domestic violence are at a higher risk for failure in school, emotional disorders, and substance abuse, and are more likely to perpetuate the cycle of violence themselves later in life.

Prevention and intervention efforts focused on breaking the cycle of abuse and violence is an important part of OVW’s ongoing work. Over the past couple of years, OVW has embarked upon the development of a new program to broaden the reach of those working to end violence against women by engaging men and boys to work together as allies with women and girls.

This is the first time in the history of OVW that a grant program focuses primarily on the prevention of sexual assault, domestic violence, dating violence and stalking by acknowledging the critical role men and boys play in addressing these issues. That, along with the program’s focus on the creation of public education campaigns through the work of community-based organizations and local community partners, has generated great interest and excitement. With men as partners in this work, we have the potential to reach men and boys in new and creative ways, implementing programs most relevant to them and their communities.

We remind all those in need of assistance, or other concerned friends and individuals, to call the National Domestic Violence Hotline at 1-800-799-SAFE or the National Sexual Assault Hotline at 1-800-656-HOPE.

Thursday, October 6, 2011

October is National Substance Abuse Prevention Month

Primary prevention is a systematic process that promotes healthy environments and behaviors before the onset of symptoms, thus reducing the likelihood of an illness, condition, or injury occurring. Substance abuse clearly is among the most costly health problems in the United States. Among national estimates of the costs of illness for 33 diseases and conditions, alcohol ranked second, tobacco ranked sixth, and drug disorders ranked seventh (National Institutes of Health [NIH]). This report shows that programs designed to prevent substance abuse can reduce these costs.

President Obama has proclaimed October National Substance Abuse Prevention Month. In his proclamation he states:

“By providing strong support systems for our loved ones, and by talking with our children about the dangers of alcohol and other drugs, we can increase their chances of living long, healthy, and productive lives. During National Substance Abuse Prevention Month, we celebrate those dedicated to prevention efforts, and we renew our commitment to the well being of all Americans.

The damage done by drugs is felt far beyond the millions of Americans with diagnosable substance abuse or dependence problems countless families and communities also live with the pain and heartbreak it causes. Relationships are destroyed, crime and violence blight communities, and dreams are shattered. Substance abuse touches every sector of our society, straining our health care and criminal justice systems.

For all these reasons, my Administration has made prevention a central component of our National Drug Control Strategy, and we have developed the first ever National Prevention Strategy. These strategies, inspired by the thousands of drug free coalitions across our country, recognize the power of community based prevention organizations, and suggest that prevention activities are most effective when informed by science, driven by State and local partnerships, and tuned to the specific needs of a community.

By investing in evidence based prevention, we can also decrease emergency room visits and lower rates of chronic disease, easing the burden on America's health care system. We can improve student achievement and workforce readiness. Most importantly, we must continue to support the efforts of parents and guardians, our children's first teachers and role models, whose positive influence is the most effective deterrent to alcohol and other drug use and the strongest influence for making health choices.”

Be a part of prevention in your community by joining one of the many organizations devoted to the health and wellbeing of the county. The Van Buren County SAFE Coalition is a group of diverse leaders and organizations committed to integrating and aligning our resources to make our community safer and healthier. The coalition is dedicated to engaging our entire community in this endeavor. By moving in this direction, we work smart, spend smart and strive to reduce our tax burden as we focus on preventing such costly problems as drug abuse, underage alcohol and tobacco consumption, teen pregnancy, juvenile delinquency, school safety and school drop outs. The prevention efforts are results focused, identifying and implementing proven, cost effective programs, policies and activities. The bottom line is that the work of the coalition is a common sense, smart spending, sound investment in the future of our youth and community. The Van Buren County SAFE Coalition is committed to making Van Buren County a SAFE Place to live.

If you are interested in getting involved with the SAFE Coalition or would like more information feel free to contact us at 319-293-6412 or

Thursday, September 29, 2011

Teens Selected for Leadership Training

Members of the Van Buren Youth Leadership Council (YLC) were selected to attend a Leadership training on September 21st and 22nd in Des Moines, Iowa.

Our society holds many biases and stereotypes about young people, when in fact they are often very effective, dedicated community activists in Substance Abuse Prevention. This was an interactive training and 'hands-on' learning experience. This training helped youth understand the concept of environmental strategies and how to implement them in order to make effective changes in their community.

This highly interactive training taught what is required to create and nurture growth of committed leaders and their work within coalitions. As a result of the training, youth and adults are better equipped to develop strategic action plans that clearly define the strategies that will be used to address problems that their individual coalition is striving to affect.

Two of the selected youth, Abby Rider and Lydia Heald, have previously attended these trainings in Washington D.C and Phoenix. They were both selected as youth facilitators for this training in Des Moines. The other twelve students to be selected for this event included; Faith Murphy, Cassie Johnson, Drew Nolting, Carson Schuck, Hallie Whitten, Rachel Warrick, Noah Whitten, Maddison Zimmer, Tiffany Beggs, Emily Jester, Libby King and Gloria Nelson.

Upon their return from the training these teens will be sharing what they have learned at an all day training for their peers in Van Buren County to be held at the Roberts Building on October 25th. Be watching for good things to come from these kids in the community!

Friday, September 23, 2011

What We Don’t Know Can Hurt Us

As parents, aunts, uncles, grandparents and other concerned adults, we spend a lot of time helping teens circumvent the challenges that could ruin their lives. Perhaps one of the biggest challenges teens face is substance abuse. We talk to them about the hazards of underage alcohol use, binge drinking, drunk and drugged driving, and the risks of abusing marijuana and other dangerous drugs such as heroin, cocaine and methamphetamine. According to national statistics, we’re making an impact.

According to The National Survey on Drug Use and Health (NSDUH)—a national study conducted each year by the U.S. Substance Abuse & Mental Health Services Administration—showed that overall illicit drug use among youth aged 12-17—from 2002 to 2008—has declined. Monitoring the Future—another noteworthy survey conducted yearly by the University of Michigan also substantiates a gradual decline. That’s great news, but only tells part of the story.

What has not seen a decline is the nonmedical use of prescription medications. Prescription drug abuse has affected media personalities from Marilyn Monroe and Judy Garland to more recently, Michael Jackson, Anna Nicole Smith, Heath Ledger, Brian “Crush” Adams (professional wrestler) and Ken Caminiti (1996 Most Valuable Player-played for Houston Astros, San Diego Padres and the Atlanta Braves).

Out of the spotlight are the teens who are abusing these drugs to get high, fall asleep, wake up and deal with stress. Did you know that one in five teens or 4.5 million young people have abused Rx drugs, and every day, almost 2,500 teens abuse an Rx medication for the first time (National Council on Patient Information and Education)? The Office of National Drug Control Policy says that the drugs most commonly abused by teens are painkillers; depressants, such as sleeping pills or anti-anxiety drugs; and stimulants, mainly prescribed to treat attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD).

Teens find Rx medication abuse as an acceptable and safer alternative to illicit drug use, second only to marijuana. Why—perhaps because we live in a world where there’s a pill for everything. In fact, when we go to the doctor, in seven out of 10 visits we leave with a prescription. It’s no wonder that teens are comfortable with misusing and abusing Rx medications. They also believe that because these drugs are legal, they are safer than marijuana, heroin, cocaine or methamphetamine.

Prescription drugs are easy to get. Fifty-six percent of people who use Rx medications non-medically say they obtain these drugs from friends and relatives (NSDUH 2008), meaning that these drugs are freely shared or taken from medicine cabinets or other accessible places.

So how do we protect the rights of those who need these medications to relieve pain while also preventing their abuse? We’ve got to sound the alarm to parents and adult caregivers that prescription drugs are a source of grave concern. Teens are abusing these drugs and some are even dying because of it. Parents can protect their teens by locking up their meds, keeping track of medication quantities and learning how to properly dispose of medications when they are no longer needed. Lee’s Pharmacy participates in the TakeAway program all year long. They accept medications you are no longer using and you want to get rid of. You can find out more about this program and other participating pharmacies at Just a reminder the TakeAway program cannot accept controlled substances at the pharmacy. Contact the Van Buren County SAFE Coalition at 319-293-6412 or You can also check out the coalition on Facebook or on their website: to become a part of the Rx abuse solution or for more information on medication abuse.

Friday, September 16, 2011

Have a Meal Together- September 26th- Family Day – Meals Together Really Do Make a Difference!

Compared to teens who have frequent family dinners (five to seven per week), those who have infrequent family dinners (fewer than three per week) are more than twice as likely to say that they expect to try drugs in the future, according to The Importance of Family Dinners VI, a new report from The National Center on Addiction and Substance Abuse (CASA*) at Columbia University.
The CASA family dinners report reveals that nearly three-quarters (72 percent) of teens think that eating dinner frequently with their parents is very or fairly important.

Compared to teens who have frequent family dinners, those who have infrequent family dinners are:
·         Twice as likely to have used tobacco;

·         Almost twice as likely to have used alcohol; and

·         One and half times likelier to have used marijuana.

The report found that compared to teens who talk to their parents about what’s going on in their lives at dinner, teens who don’t are twice as likely to have used tobacco and one and a half times likelier to have used marijuana.

“The message for parents couldn’t be any clearer. With the recent rise in the number of Americans age 12 and older who are using drugs, it is more important than ever to sit down to dinner and engage your children in conversation about their lives, their friends, school--just talk. Ask questions and really listen to their answers,” said Kathleen Ferrigno, CASA’s Director of Marketing who directs the Family Day-A Day to Eat Dinner with Your ChildrenTM initiative. “The magic that happens over family dinners isn’t the food on the table, but the communication and conversations around it. Of course there is no iron-clad guarantee that your kids will grow up drug free, but knowledge is power and the more you know the better the odds are that you will raise a healthy kid.”

The report also reveals that teens who have fewer than three family dinners per week are twice as likely to be able to get marijuana or prescription drugs (to get high) in anhour or less. Teens who are having five or more family dinners per week are more likely to say that they do not have any access to marijuana and prescription drugs (to get high).

This year the trend survey found that 60 percent of teens report having dinner with their families at least five times a week, a proportion that has remained consistent over the past decade.

Family Day—A Day to Eat Dinner with Your ChildrenTM Family Day is a national movement launched by CASA in 2001 to remind parents that frequent family dinners make a difference. Celebrated on the fourth Monday in September—the 26th in 2011—Family Day promotes parental engagement as a simple and effective way to reduce children’s risk of smoking, drinking and using illegal drugs. What began as a small grassroots initiative has grown to become a nationwide celebration which is expected to once again be proclaimed and supported by the President and all 50 U.S. Governors as well as leading sponsors Stouffer's and The Coca-Cola Company.  More information about Family Day, including conversation starters and a pledge can be found at:

CASA and its staff of some 60 professionals aim to inform Americans of the economic and social costs of substance abuse and its impact on their lives, find out what works in prevention and treatment of this disease, and remove the stigma of substance abuse and replace shame and despair with hope.
For more information on CASA visit
For more information on talking to your kids about drugs or taking a more active role in their lives contact the SAFE Coalition at 319-293-6412 or

Teens Selected for Leadership Training

Members of the Van Buren Youth Leadership Council (YLC) have been selected to attend a Leadership training on September 21st and 22nd in Des Moines, Iowa.

Our society holds many biases and stereotypes about young people, when in fact they are often very effective, dedicated community activists in Substance Abuse Prevention.  This will be an interactive training and 'hands-on' learning experience.  This training will help youth understand the concept of environmental strategies and how to implement them in order to make effective changes in their community. 

This highly interactive training will teach what is required to create and nurture growth of committed leaders and their work within coalitions, As a result of the training, youth and adults will be better equipped to develop strategic action plans that clearly define the strategies that will be used to address problems that their individual coalition is striving to affect.

Two of the selected youth, Abby Rider and Lydia Heald, have previously attended these trainings in Washington D.C and Phoenix. They have both been selected as youth facilitators for this training in Des Moines. The other twelve students to be selected for this event include; Faith Murphy, Cassie Johnson, Drew Nolting, Carson Schuck, Hallie Whitten, Rachel Warrick, Noah Whitten, Maddison Zimmer, Tiffany Beggs, Emily Jester, Libby King and Gloria Nelson.

Upon their return from the training these teens will be sharing what they have learned at an all day training for their peers in Van Buren County to be held at the Roberts Building in October. Be watching for good things to come from these kids in the community!

For more information on this training or any YLC activities please contact the SAFE Coalition at 319-293-6412 or

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Did you miss the SAFE Home Pledge at Registration?

SAFE home pledges are back! Pledges were included in registration packets this year at Van Buren Middle/High School and Elementary. If you missed these you still have an opportunity to sign a pledge!

A Safe Home Pledge looks a little different from elementary to middle/high school. At the elementary level the pledge asks parents to start conversations with their kids about the use of drugs, alcohol and tobacco and set clear rules and expectations around the use of these substances. At the middle and high school level the pledge states that the parents will not provide alcohol to minors in their home. It also states that the parents are open to communication with other parents about the use of alcohol by their children.

A directory of all parents who have signed a SAFE Home Pledge will be produced and provided to parents after the start of the school year. An updated directory will also be available on the SAFE website at

You may sign an actual SAFE Home Pledge that you received in your packet or you may sign one online at

For more information on how to sign a SAFE Home Pledge, the SAFE Coalition or any of their activities you may contact them at 319-293-6412 or via email at Or check out the website at and the blog at

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Back to School BBQ a Great Success!

On August 18, 2011 the Van Buren County School District, SAFE Coalition, Keosauqua Chamber, and Keosauqua Rotary held a Back to School BBQ at the Van Buren Middle/High School. During the BBQ parents and students were able to register for the school year; tour the newly remodeled building; meet the teachers, staff and administration; attend presentations; win door prizes and eat some great food. There were approximately 200 parents and students in attendance for this great event. Door prizes given away included a boy’s bike (donated by Lee McIntosh), a Flip Camera (donated by the SAFE Coalition) and Pizza Gift Certificates (donated by Circle B).

The presentations held during the BBQ were on Bullying: parents/students rights when being bullied and the code of conduct/ Warrior Pure Performance. The bullying presentation was put on by Nate Munson, the Executive Director of Iowa Safe Schools. Iowa Safe Schools is a coalition of educators, civil rights and LGBT advocates in partnership with the Iowa Civil Rights Commission. Nate is a graduate of Clarke College and his previous experience includes work with individuals with mental and physical disabilities, diversity programs and political campaigns. Since joining Iowa Safe Schools in May 2007 Nate has become known as a statewide leader on bullying and LGBT youth development. The presentation addressed parents and students rights when a student is being physically/cyber/verbally bullied by other students. There were 26 parents and 32 students who attended.

The “Code of Conduct/Warrior Pure Performance” presentation was put on by Greg Jones, Van Buren Community Schools Middle School Administrator/Activities Director and Tonja Jirak, Stop Grant Director. There were approximately 12 parents and 24 students in attendance at this presentation. They outlined the new Van Buren Community Schools Code of Conduct and described the plan for the commitment of the school district to a Warrior Pure Performance program. The core of these policies is to do the following:
Encourage students to perform their best and to take pride in that performance.
Help students realize how important it is to be at their best both physically and mentally and to be committed to be alcohol, tobacco and drug free.
Help the youth and parents to develop a sense of character, dignity and civility that speaks highly of the school and community.
Remind all to respect our opponents and acknowledge them for striving to do their best.
Remind parents to be aware of where your child is spending their after game time – who they are with and what they are doing. Support your student by providing alcohol and drug free settings.
Remind the parents to respect the task the coaches face as teachers of performance and character, and support them as they strive to educate the youth.
Remind the parents to be a “team fan”, not a “my child” fan.
Remind the parents to be an active and vigilant parent committed to Warrior Pure Performance.

The event proved to be a fun and successful evening for all in attendance! If you are interested in information on Bullying: Parent/Student Rights or the New VBCSD Code of Conduct please contact the SAFE Coalition at or 319-293-6412. You can check out what the coalition is about and is doing on our website -; on our blog -; or on Facebook - Van Buren County SAFE Coalition.

Monday, August 22, 2011

The SAFE Coalition Attends the EUDL Conference

The Underage Drinking Enforcement Training Center (UDETC) held another successful National Leadership Conference (NLC)! The 13th Annual National Leadership Conference “Spotlighting Community Solutions to Underage Drinking” was held in Orlando, Florida on August 10-12, 2011. The conference registered nearly 1500 participants. Van Buren SAFE Coalition was represented by STOP Project Director, Tonja Jirak, Van Buren Sheriff Deputy Jon Tharp and Reserve Officers Lee McIntosh and William Cline.

The conference, held in conjunction with the National Liquor Law Enforcement Association, included distinguished speakers from OJJDP and other leadership in the field. This extends UDETC's reach nationally to federal, state and local agencies as well as their outreach to state and local communities through their relationship with 56 EUDL Coordinators in each state, the District of Columbia and five US Territories (American Samoa, Commonwealth of Northern Mariana Islands, Guam, Puerto Rico, and the US Virgin Islands). The NLC is a gathering for States and communities with interest in enforcing underage drinking laws and in sharing of resources.

The conference included thought-provoking plenary sessions along with engaging presentations by law enforcement, judicial members, youth, researchers and community leaders. This year’s NLC theme, “Spotlighting Community Solutions to Underage Drinking”, and with every year at the conference being a learning experience, this year was no exception. We heard about innovations and effective practices that communities across the Nation developed and implemented. Communities shared their challenges and how they overcame them. Important new research on how alcohol affects the adolescent brain, ways that technology support law enforcement, how science based strategies impacts prevention and many other exciting new tools, technology and resources were revealed, shared and discussed. This year the NLC included;

-In-depth pre-conference activities for EUDL coordinators and invited guests,

-Successful experiential learning exercises,

-Exciting youth track and presentation and

-Law Enforcement, Volunteer of the Year, Youth Achievement and Success Story Awards.

For additional information on the OJJDP's UDETC and their resources contact 1-877-335-1287 or the SAFE Coalition at or 319-293-6412. You can check out what the coalition is about and is doing on our website -; on our blog -; or on Facebook - Van Buren County SAFE Coalition.

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Van Buren Middle/High School Conduct Policy FAQ’s

What is a conduct policy?
Van Buren’s conduct policy provides students and parents with a set of guidelines of what is expected in terms of a student’s conduct in order to be eligible to participate in activities at Van Buren. Participation in extracurricular activities is a privilege and students must demonstrate good behavior not only during school hours but at all times in order to earn the privilege of participating.

Why is a conduct policy necessary?
Van Buren’s code of conduct sets behavioral standards to assist youth in making good decisions. The reason for the conduct policy is not just to punish those who break the rules. It sets clear and consistent boundaries for participation in athletics and activities at Van Buren.

Isn’t there already a conduct policy? What’s new about it?
Van Buren’s conduct policy was updated to better reflect a positive model of behavior that students will be held to. The policy also now addresses issues that have arisen due to technological advances such as cell phones and the internet. Cyber images and texting play a big role in youth culture and students must make good choices about how they use these new means of communication.

What if my student isn’t in sports? Can my student be unable to attend prom?
All students that are involved in activities of any sort at Van Buren, including music, theatre, clubs and even school sponsored events such as Prom and Homecoming are expected to abide by the standards set in the conduct policy. If a student is found in violation of the policy then they will be ineligible to participate in activities as covered by the policy.

Who should I talk to if I’m aware of a violation?
Violations should be directed to school staff and/or the building administrator for investigation. Steps will then be taken to address the occurrence. However there must be more evidence than hearsay to find a student in violation of the conduct policy. Additional guidelines for reporting a violation can be found in the policy.

Want to know more? Attend the Back to School BBQ presentation on August 18th at 6:15pm in the Van Buren High School Cafeteria.

Monday, August 8, 2011

Environmental Strategies – Why They Work!

For many years, prevention strategies have been an important part of reducing the harmful use of substances. The best known prevention strategies are the ones that address individuals for intervention. They are designed to influence their attitudes, knowledge, skills, and behavior. Environmental Strategies that seek to reduce or eliminate substance abuse and related problems by changing the overall context within which substance use occurs are less well known.

Dr. Deborah Fisher describes individual strategies as follows: “Traditional, individually oriented strategies accept the environment and risks it imposes as given, and focus on enhancing individuals’ abilities to resist temptations to use substances. These strategies provide information, skills training, and opportunities for personal development through a variety of programs, including school-based curricula, mentoring, and peer education and counseling. The goal of such efforts is to reduce the probability of substance abuse by changing characteristics of individuals. Much of the prevention to which youth are currently exposed falls into this category.”

Yet, individuals do not become involved with substances solely on the basis of personal characteristics. They are influenced by a complex set of factors, such as institutional rules and regulations, community norms, mass media messages and the accessibility of alcohol, tobacco and other drugs. It has now been found that it is better and more effective to change the environment and availability of the substances to prevent substance use/abuse rather than just addressing individual issues.

Environmental strategies incorporate prevention efforts aimed at changing or influencing community conditions, standards, institutions, structures, systems and policies. These strategies are effective in modifying the settings where a person lives, which plays a part in how that person behaves. They can produce quick wins and instill commitment toward long-term impact in a community. They also address more people at one time and so are able to help more community members.

In Van Buren County the SAFE Coalition has been working in conjunction with community leaders to implement some of these environmental strategies to help prevent substance use/abuse. Some examples are:
•Youth working in the community to implement and strengthen tobacco free areas with additional signage.
•Youth sticker shock to provide counter advertising related to the costs of providing alcohol to a minor.
•Providing Merchant Trainings to help our local businesses to develop strong policies and procedures to prevent underage purchases of alcohol and tobacco.
•Compliance checks including a policy for law enforcement.
•School Conduct Policies with a proactive approach as opposed to reactive.

If you would like more information on Environmental Strategies please contact the SAFE Coalition at or 319-293-6412. You can check out what the coalition is about and is doing on our website -; on our blog -; or on Facebook - Van Buren County SAFE Coalition.

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Van Buren Middle/High School Back to School BBQ August 18, 2011

You are invited to a family friendly event! Meet the staff of Van Buren Community Middle/High School and learn a little about them. Learn about the Conduct Policy and how it affects your family. Learn about parent and student rights regarding bullying and harassment. Enjoy a meal and door prizes such as a flip camera. Come out and join us as we head back to school!

This event will be held on August 18, 2011 from 4:45pm to 7:00 pm at the Van Buren Middle/High School in Keosauqua.

•Bullying Presentation begins at 4:45pm provided by Nate Munson from Iowa’s Safe Schools Program.
•Conduct Policy Presentation begins at 6:15pm provided by Greg Jones the Activities Director at the Van Buren Middle/High School.
•A meal will be provided starting at 5:00 pm.
•Door prizes will be awarded at each presentation (you must be present to win). Two of the prizes will include a bike and a flip camera plus more to come!

The BBQ is being sponsored by: Keosauqua Chamber, Keosauqua Lions Club, Keosauqua Rotary, Van Buren Community Schools and Van Buren County SAFE Coalition! For more information on this event please contact the SAFE Coalition at 319-293-6412 or or check for information online at or on Facebook – Van Buren County SAFE Coalition.

Thursday, July 21, 2011


August 4th — 3:30 to 5:30 p.m.

The Child Abuse Prevention Council will be sponsoring the sixth annual “Safe and Healthy” Kids Fair. The event will take place on Thursday, August 4, 2011 at the Roberts Memorial Building in Keosauqua from 3:30 p.m. until 5:30 p.m. and is open to all Van Buren County residents.

The fair will focus on keeping kids, ages 0-18 in the county, safe and healthy. Topics that will be covered include: child abuse prevention, nutrition, mental health, dental, immunizations, lead poisoning, fire and tornado safety, literacy, quality day care and preschools, parenting skills, and many more. Last year 35-40 exhibitors participated in the fair.

All school-aged children K-8 from Van Buren Community School, Harmony Community School and home-schooled children will receive free school supplies from the SIEDA/Post Office school supply drive. Handouts promoting health and safety will be given to each child as well as other community services, such as free eye exams and hearing screens. A raffle will also take place where two bikes will be given away as well as other prizes being donated by the various vendors.

SIEDA and the Van Buren County Post Offices are holding a school supply drive for the kids fair. They will be accepting donations from Friday, July 11, 2011 to Thursday, July 29, 2011. If you would like to donate school supplies to the kids fair you can drop them off at the SIEDA resource center in Keosauqua, Van Buren County Hospital, or your local post office by July 29, 2011. For a list of supplies needed you may contact Donna at 319-293-3722.

BACKPACKS ARE NEEDED!!– if you would like to donate a backpack for the kids fair contact Donna at the number above or drop them off at Community 1st Bank, Libertyville Savings Bank, State Central Bank or Farmers & Traders Bank by July 29th!

This event promotes the many resources we have available to the children of Van Buren County. If you have any questions or would like to volunteer please call 319-293-7157.

Thursday, July 14, 2011

SAFE Coalition is attending CADCA’s Mid-Year Training Institute

CADCA’s Mid-Year Training Institute is the only intensive, coalition-specific training opportunity of its kind, providing in-depth courses specifically designed to address a community leader’s biggest concerns and obstacles. It is being held this year in Anaheim, California on July 24-28, 2011. Participants take part in courses on everything from how to run a community anti-drug coalition to how to implement environmental strategies. The format of the training allows for small group work, real practice and knowledge application.

CADCA expects more than 1,200 attendees for a one-of-a-kind intensive, coalition-specific training opportunity. This year’s Mid-Year Training Institute provides an opportunity for coalition members to attend a variety of lecture and “lab” sessions to expand their knowledge in prevention science and improve skills in implementing evidence-based strategies. These in-depth courses are relevant for all coalitions. The following are the eight subject areas that will be addressed during the conference.

• Coalition Fundamentals: From Fluid to a Solid Foundation
• Partners: Bonding Your Coalition’s Building Blocks
• Environmental Strategies: High-Risk Settings That Shape Behaviors
• Advocacy: Reaching Critical Mass at the National, State, and Local Levels
• Social Media: Mixing Mediums to Share Your Message
• Evaluation: Developing Formal Proofs to Support Coalition Value
• Sustainability: The Phases of Diversified Funding
• Coalition Innovations: Experimenting with Emerging Trends

During this conference the SAFE Coalitions Coordinator, Heidi Bainbridge will be a trainer for one of the courses offered. She will be presenting on Coalition Considerations in Rural Settings. This course includes information on Coalitions operating in rural settings facing unique challenges and opportunities. It is offered for members of rural coalitions and provides opportunities for education and discussion about these issues. Building on participants’ experiences in implementing the Strategic Prevention Framework, the course includes a discussion of lessons learned, successes and challenges, and resources relevant to each SPF element including assessment, planning, implementation, evaluation, capacity building, cultural competence and sustainability.

For more information on the CADCA Mid-Year Institute please contact the SAFE Coalition at or 319-293-6412. You can check out what the coalition is about and is doing on our website -; on our blog -; or on Facebook - Van Buren County SAFE Coalition.

Thursday, July 7, 2011

Marijuana Facts

As there have been discussions about the legalization of marijuana for medical use in Iowa; the SAFE Coalition would like to share some facts for why it should not be legalized in Iowa. Marijuana is a hallucinogen with signs of intoxication including distorted perceptions, impaired coordination, problems with learning and memory, and difficulty in problem solving. Studies continue to show a connection between chronic marijuana usage and increased rates of anxiety, depression, suicidal thoughts and schizophrenia. Marijuana growers continue to genetically engineer plants that have higher levels of delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) which is the main psychoactive ingredient in the plant. This has lead to an increase, statistically doubling the potency of the drug from 1998 to 2008.

Marijuana specifically impacts our communities in negative ways. National rates of marijuana use among 8th, 10th, and 12th graders are higher than rates for any other illicit drug. According to the 2010 Iowa Youth Survey, 26% of 11th graders in the state of Iowa report having ever used marijuana, with 13% being current users. 21% of Iowa youth report having begun marijuana use between 13 and 16 years of age. Iowa youth are being exposed to marijuana more often and at a younger age than historically seen. The facts above reflect a “Perfect Storm” of potential substance use.

A “Perfect Storm” occurs at the juncture of perception of risk/harm, perception of/or actual disapproval and availability of substances. By making marijuana more available in our towns and cities, the perception of the potential harm of marijuana will decrease as will the perception of disapproval associated with using marijuana. Marijuana use will become less physically harmful in the thoughts of youth and marijuana use will hold a lesser level of potential negative social consequences. Making marijuana more accessible impacts the public health and well being of Iowans, the strength of our families, and the lives of our children.

In addition, according to The Economic Impact of Illicit Drug Use on American Society (U.S. Department of Justice, National Drug Intelligence Center, 2011),illegal drugs already cost the United States $193 billion annually in increased health care costs, crime and lost productivity. Legalizing marijuana would exponentially exacerbate these costs.

For more information on the dangers of marijuana use and talking to your teens you may visit or contact The SAFE Coalition at 319-293-6412, or check us out on Facebook or at

Thursday, June 30, 2011

MADD's Power of Parents, It's Your Influence™ Iowa Training

Van Buren County SAFE Coalition Members were trained at MADD’s community-based program, Power of Parents; Heidi Bainbridge and Nicole Tedrow attended this one day training on June 27!

In response to scientific evidence that parental influence can reduce underage drinking, MADD began a parent initiative: Power of Parents, It's Your Influence™ and partnered with Dr. Robert Turrisi from Pennsylvania State University to adapt his research - based handbook model to reach parents of high school students. The goals of MADD's parent initiative are to influence parenting behavior to prevent underage drinking, maintain the 21 minimum drinking age law in all 50 states, and engage new supporters to carry on MADD's lifesaving work.

This engaging and interactive training was held Monday, June 27, from 9 am - 4 pm at the Midwest Counter Drug Training Center (MCTC) near Des Moines, Iowa. The training provided participants with a step-by-step Facilitator Guide and Resource CD that prepared them to begin facilitating the workshops and training other facilitators upon completion. MADD's Power of Parents parent workshops are facilitated by trained and certified Power of Parents Facilitators. Do you feel awkward about talking to your teen about underage drinking? Relax! This training can give you ideas for bringing up the topic and making the conversation go easier. Plus you will learn so much more from the facilitator and you’re your parent handbook! SAFE Coalition members will now be facilitating these 30-minute parent workshops in Van Buren County.

If your group or organization is interested in having a presentation provided to your parents please contact the coalition at 319-293-6412 or at

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Van Buren County Sherriff’s Department Working to Reduce Traffic Fatalities This July 4th Weekend by Reminding Drivers to Plan Ahead

July 4th celebrations often include cook-outs, picnics, boating, time spent with family and friends and, of course, fireworks. But for too many families, this holiday weekend can be filled with tragedy instead of celebration. The Fourth of July is one of the deadliest holidays of the year when it comes to alcohol-impaired-driving crashes on our roadways.

That is why the Van Buren County Sherriff’s Department is reminding everyone that Buzzed Driving Is Drunk Driving and to designate a sober driver before the celebrations begin.

Statistics gathered from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration over the past 25 years show that, on average, nearly half of all deadly traffic crashes over each year’s July 4th holiday involved some level of alcohol.

In fact, 410 people were killed in motor vehicle traffic crashes nationally during the Fourth of July weekend in 2009. Of that number, 40 percent involved drivers with blood alcohol concentrations (BAC) of .08 grams per deciliter or higher.

The Fourth of July is a time most Americans spend celebrating with family and friends, but in order to keep someone you love from becoming another deadly statistic, each of us can do our part to combat one of America’s deadliest crimes—drunk driving. We hope each individual will be responsible, designate a sober driver before the parties begin and will never get behind the wheel after they’ve been drinking.

All 50 states, the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico have made it illegal to drive with a BAC of .08 or higher.

Impaired driving is one of America’s deadliest problems. In 2009 alone, 10,839 people were killed in alcohol-impaired-driving crashes, accounting for 32 percent of all traffic-related deaths in the United States. That’s an average of one impaired-driving fatality every 48 minutes in 2009.

Impaired drivers not only take the risk of hurting or killing themselves or someone else, the trauma and financial costs of an alcohol-impaired crash or an arrest can be significant. Violators often face jail time, the loss of their driver licenses, higher insurance rates and dozens of other unanticipated expenses.

The SAFE Coalition and Van Buren County Sherriff’s Office wants everyone to enjoy their holiday celebrations, but it’s important when you or a friend are out drinking, to act on that knowledge by putting down your keys or taking a friend’s keys to not let them drink and drive.

The SAFE Coalition encourages a few simple precautions to keep themselves and loved ones safe:

• Plan a safe way home before the festivities begin;
• Before drinking, designate a sober driver;
• If you’re impaired, don’t get behind the wheel. Call a sober friend or family member so you are sure to get home safely.
• If you see a drunk driver on the road, don’t hesitate to contact the Van Buren County Sherriff’s Department — because you may just save someone’s life.
• Remember, Friends Don’t Let Friends Drive Drunk. Take the keys and help them make other arrangements to get where they are going safely.

Remember, Buzzed Driving Is Drunk Driving, so whether you’ve had way too many, or just one too many, it’s not worth the risk to yourself or others to get behind the wheel. Please plan ahead and designate a sober driver before the party begins.

For more information, please visit You may also contact the SAFE Coalition at 319-293-6412, or check us out at and on Facebook.

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Internet Use Linked to Teen Drinking

Rachael Rettner

Are your teens online all of the time? Are you worried about their screen time? Teens who drink alcohol spend more time using the computer for activities such as social networking than do those who don't drink alcohol, according to a new study. The study found a link between recreational use of the computer (for non-school related activities) and teen drinking. The finding suggests certain online activities may influence teen drinking. For instance, it's possible references to alcohol on social networking sites or online advertisements may encourage teenagers to drink, the researchers say.

However, the study found only an association, and not a direct cause-effect link. This means it's impossible to tell which happened first: the computer use or the drinking. It could also be that teens who drink are prone to using the computer for longer periods of time. More research over longer periods of time is needed to better understand the relationship between computer and alcohol use, the researchers say.

"Children are being exposed to computers and the Internet at younger ages," said study researcher Jennifer Epstein, a public health researcher at Weill Cornell Medical College in New York. "For this reason it's important that parents are actively involved in monitoring their children's computer usage, as well as alcohol use.” The study is published in the journal Addictive Behaviors.

Epstein and colleagues surveyed more than 200 adolescents between the ages of 13 and 17 about their online activity and alcohol use. Teens who drank alcohol in the last month spent, on average, 16 hours online per week excluding schoolwork activities. Those who didn't drink alcohol in the last month spent 12.7 hours online per week excluding schoolwork. No link was found between playing online video games or shopping online and drinking. It's important that parents realize their children face enticements online that may encourage underage drinking, the researchers say.

The study adds to a growing body of research that has found both pros and cons to teen Internet use. A recent report from the American Academy of Pediatrics described a new phenomenon known as "Facebook depression," in which children and teenagers spend too much time on social networking sites, and then develop symptoms of depression. And other studies have linked Internet use in general to an increased risk of depression and loneliness among teens. But Internet use can benefit adolescents as well. In addition to helping with homework, studies have found online activities help teens maintain ties with friends. And one study found those who did not spend time online were also at an increased risk for depression. "The Internet offers a wealth of information and opportunities for intellectual and social enrichment," Gil Botvin, a professor of public health at Weill Cornell Medical College, said in a statement. "However, it is becoming clear that there may also be a downside to Internet use.” More research is needed to understand these potential dangers and combat them, he added.

This story was provided by My Health News Daily, a sister site to Live Science. Read more: For additional information you may contact the SAFE Coalition at 319-293-6412, or check us out at and on Facebook.

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

JEL Members at Strawberry Festival

The JEL members from the Harmony High school made a presence at the Farmington Strawberry Festival over the weekend. On Friday the members visited with the vendors as they set up their booths and provided them with no smoking signs if they were interested. Many of the vendors were very appreciative of the signs and said that it was really helpful to have these available. One vendor said she is allergic to the smoke and this will be an easy way for her to remind patrons not to smoke in her tent. There were very few vendors who declined the signs and about 30 signs were posted at the vendor tents downtown. Large posters were also hung in various places around the downtown area to provide information about secondhand smoke, tobacco use and quitting smoking. The youth hoped to send a message that secondhand smoke in public places in dangerous not just for the smoker but for those around them.

Also on Saturday JEL members set up a booth with information. Their booth had a quiz where prizes could be won and information about quitting tobacco use for those interested. The members enjoyed providing the information about the dangers of tobacco and secondhand smoke.

For more information the JEL program and activities please contact 319-293-6412.

Thursday, June 2, 2011

Van Buren Community Middle School JEL Members Receive Awards

On Thursday, June 02, 2011 JEL Members were presented with Awards during the Van Buren Community Middle School Awards Ceremony.

Special Awards that were presented included a Most Active award for the members with the most points accrued during the year; An Above and Beyond award was presented to members who participated in an activity or event that was above and beyond the call of duty; Creativity awards were given to members who used their creative skills for JEL projects; You Rock Awards were given to JEL members who stood out during the year for their hard work; The Energy award was presented to a JEL member always excited to do things; and the MVP awards were voted on by the members for the person they felt had the Most Valuable Contribution to the JEL program during the year. Recipients of the Awards included:

6th Grade
Most Active: Aimee Simons, Hannah Sprouse and Grace Thomas
(15 points)
Above and Beyond: Tempis Rysdam, Aimee Simons and Grace Thomas
Creativity: Hannah Sprouse and Sarah Trent
Most Valuable Person: Hannah Sprouse

7th Grade
Most Active: Sabrina Countryman and Sheldon Dewitt (11 points)
You Rock: Carissa Kobelt, Emily Jester, Serena Riffle and Libby King
Energy: Will Mertens
Most Valuable Person: Jacinta Wenke

8th Grade:
Most Active: Hallie Whitten (18 points)
Above and Beyond: Hallie Whitten
You Rock: Mariah Giberson
Most Valuable Person: Madison Zimmer

Congratulations to all of the award winners! Thanks to all of the JEL Members for your hard work and participation this year! We hope you all have an amazing summer and we look forward to seeing and working with you again next year!

For more information about JEL and the SAFE Coalition please check us out on Face Book or at our website If you have any questions please contact us by email at or by phone at 319-293-6412.

Tuesday, May 31, 2011

SAFE Coalition Offers Training Opportunities

Van Buren County SAFE Coalition seeks to stimulate community involvement to promote responsible behaviors among youth and adults, leading to SAFE and healthy communities. The coalition is made up of a variety of members from various sectors of Van Buren County.

Being a member of the coalition provides members with the opportunity to make a difference in their community. They can be a part of an initiative to keep Van Buren county youth free of drugs, alcohol and tobacco in turn making our community a SAFE place to live. Another benefit of being a coalition member is the wonderful training opportunities the coalition is able to afford to its members.

Upcoming coalition trainings include:

Cultivating Partnerships for County Growth Through the Strategic Prevention Framework - This training will provide an overview of the Strategic Prevention Framework (SPF), detail the components of the Assessment and Capacity steps, and highlight key milestones. The SPF is a five-step process that assists states in developing a comprehensive plan for prevention infrastructure and supports selected local communities in implementing effective programs, policies and practices to reduce substance abuse and its related problems. CEU’s are available for this training. This training will be held on Monday, June 20th at the Honey Creek Resort.

Power of Parents- In response to scientific evidence that parental influence can reduce underage drinking, MADD began a parent initiative: Power of Parents, It’s Your Influence™ and partnered with Dr. Robert Turrisi from Pennsylvania State University to adapt his research – based handbook model to reach parents of high school students. The goals of MADD’s parent initiative are to influence parenting behavior to prevent underage drinking, maintain the 21 minimum drinking age law in all 50 states, and engage new supporters to carry on MADD’s lifesaving work.

MADD’s Power of Parents parent workshops are facilitated by trained and certified Power of Parents Facilitators. You can facilitate these 30-minute parent workshops in your community after you attend training and receive certification. Training includes a step-by-step Facilitator Guide and Resource CD that prepares you to begin facilitating workshops and training other facilitators immediately. This engaging and interactive training is scheduled for Monday, June 27, from 9 am – 3:30 pm at the Midwest CounterDrug Training Center (MCTC) in Johnston, IA

Enforcing Underage Drinking Laws- National Leadership Conference- The conference, held in conjunction with the National Liquor Law Enforcement Association, includes distinguished speakers from OJJDP and other leadership in the field. The Underage Drinking Enforcement Training Center's NLC brings out some of the Nation's largest policy and public health funders including OJJDP, NHTSA, NIAAA, SAMHSA, DOE and the FTC. This extends UDETC's reach nationally to federal, state and local agencies as well as their outreach to state and local communities through their relationship with 51 EUDL Coordinators in each State, the District of Columbia and the US Territories. The NLC is a gathering for States, Territories and communities with interest in enforcing underage drinking laws and in sharing of resources. This training is being held August 9-12 in Orlando, FL.

These trainings will all strengthen coalition member’s skills in the work they do in the community with the coalition, their employment and/or everyday lives. All of these trainings are provided to active coalition members free of charge.

For more information on training opportunities through the coalition or becoming a member of the organization please contact the coalition office at 319-293-6412 or via email at

Monday, May 23, 2011

Van Buren County SAFE Coalition Scholarship Awarded this Week!

The Van Buren County SAFE Coalition is committed to making Van Buren County a SAFE place to live. They seek to stimulate community involvement to promote responsible behaviors among youth and adults, leading to SAFE healthy communities. The youth of Van Buren County are key to making this happen.

The coalition works with the community to provide information and programming to help the members of Van Buren County understand the dangers of underage drinking, underage tobacco use, misuse of prescription medications, and illicit drug use. Thanks to the gracious gift of a former coalition member the SAFE coalition is able each year to award a graduating Van Buren Community School District Senior a scholarship. The recipient of the scholarship must be an active member of the youth coalition and have shown a desire to make a difference in their community. Graduating seniors must complete an application for the scholarship process and explain why they are deserving of the award.

This year the scholarship recipient is Alicia Schalla. Alicia has been a member of the youth coalition for her entire high school career. She has been active in numerous coalition activities and helped to orchestrate the cigarette butt cleanup on the school grounds. Her dedication to this project even reached national media where she was interviewed for an article in the National School Board Journal.

Not only has Alicia been active at the local level but for the last two years has been a member of the J.E.L. (Just eliminate Lies) executive council. This has given her the opportunity to have a voice at the state level on tobacco issues affecting the state. This opportunity has provided her with knowledge and skills that will last her a lifetime.

It has been an honor to have Alicia as part of the SAFE Coalition and Youth JEL/YLC Coalition, her work ethic and drive have been an inspiration to her peers and she will be missed. We wish her luck and much success in her future endeavors.

Congratulations to Alicia on her graduation and receipt of the SAFE Coalition Scholarship for 2011.

For more information about the SAFE Coalition check us out on Face Book or online at You can also call the office at 319-293-6412.

Thursday, May 12, 2011

Van Buren JEL Group Looking for Donations

The Van Buren High School JEL Members are going to be doing a beautification project this spring at the Keosauqua Basketball Courts. The JEL Members are looking for the community to assist them with this by donating flowers, plants and mulch. Maybe you need to clean out a flower bed or are going to be making a trip to the greenhouse. Think about picking up a little extra fro the JEL Members. If you are interested in donating to this project please contact Heidi Bainbridge by May 26, 2011 at 319-293-6412 or The plan is for the project to be completed by the beginning of June.

Congratulations Graduating Seniors! Attention Senior Parents: Now is the Time to Talk to Your Graduate

Graduating high school is an important milestone in your child’s life, one which calls for celebration with friends and family. Though this is a happy time in life, it is also a dangerous time of year. Before sending your graduate off to celebrate, make sure they know the seriousness of underage drinking. Taking the time to simply talk to your child just may save their life.

The following are important points to stress when talking to your child about the risks of consuming alcohol:

• Legal Risks:
Consuming alcohol under the age of 21 is illegal. If caught by law enforcement, your graduate may be charged, which possibly will go on their permanent record. This in turn could affect the bright future they have worked so hard to achieve. Chances of financial aid are jeopardized, as well as a chance at certain careers. Getting caught consuming underage could also equal fines, court costs, and possibly even jail time. This does NOT sound like a fun way to celebrate such a great achievement.

• Health Risks:
Your graduate’s brain is still in a critical stage of development, which makes them even more sensitive to alcohol’s effects. Inhibitions are effected, which may cause your graduate to make regretted decisions. They are more likely to take risks, which could lead to serious injury and even death. Other risks of underage drinking include over consumption, which may cause your child to pass out, stop breathing, and even be poisoned by alcohol.

Research has shown that YOU as a parent can make a difference in your child’s decisions just by taking the time to talk to them. Set aside a moment and let your graduate know how you feel about them consuming alcohol, what the risks are, and that you want them to celebrate safely. Set the rules and stick to them. Let them know you are there for them, and answer any questions they may have. Taking these steps may affect your child throughout their entire life.

For more information on Talking to your kids about alcohol you may contact the Van Buren County SAFE Coalition at 319-293-6412 or on the web at