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.