Thursday, December 13, 2012

YLC Members Help Decorate the Community for the Holidays

It is an annual tradition that the Youth Leadership Council Members assist with decorating the community for Christmas. The YLC members feel this is an important activity that they enjoy being a part of each year. They are able to complete the decorating in a couple of different ways.

One way they help decorate the community is by lighting the tree in the Keosauqua City Park. For the last 3 years middle school YLC members volunteer their time to help the Keosauqua Light and Power put the lights on the tree in the park. This can be challenging sometimes as the tree is rather large and there are a lot of lights that need to be detangled and put on the tree. This year the following 8th grade YLC members helped with this project: Conner Fuller, Thayne Runyon, Myla Zimmer, MeKenzie Rodibaugh, Lauren Cochenour, Brooke Dunkin and Daisy Cole.

YLC members are also involved in decorating a tree for the Festival of Trees each year. This is an exciting project because the members know that the proceeds from their tree go toward a local charity to help those in need in our community. The students collect decorations throughout the year to complete the look of their tree. This year they had a gold and red theme that adorned their tree, they hope that their tree will bring quite a bit of money to help out the Christmas for Kids Project.  The YLC members who assisted with the festival of trees project this year were: Cheyenne Schmitter, Morgan Schmitter, Brooke Metcalf, Hannah Sprouse, Grace Thomas and Aimee Simons.   

For more information on YLC activities you may contact the SAFE Coalition at 319-293-6412 or  You can also find information on their website:

Thursday, December 6, 2012

Iowa Alcoholic Beverages Division Town Hall Meeting

On Wednesday, November 28th, Karen Freund a representative from the Iowa Alcoholic Beverages Division held a town hall meeting for all business and local authorities in Van Buren County who sell alcohol. This meeting was intended to cover the licensing guidelines in Iowa Code Section 123 that businesses are required to follow in order to maintain their alcohol license. Some of the main license regulations that were discussed were outdoor service area, temporary license transfer vs. a five day special event license, catering privilege,  bringing alcohol onto a licensed premise, selling on credit, purchasing alcohol for resale, after hour sales, refilling bottles, and advertising on the outside of the premise.

These meetings are being held across the state of Iowa to make sure retailers are aware of the regulations and understand them, sometimes Iowa code can be confusing and they want to ensure that all licensees have the right information. Karen allowed the attendees at the meeting to ask questions and have discussions about the laws and regulations. This allowed for an open dialogue of discussion about specific situations that they have encountered.

ABD has hired two new compliance officers who will begin doing spot checks across the state to ensure licensees are in compliance with the laws. These checks are not intended to “catch” someone doing something wrong, but rather to make sure they are doing everything right and if not to educate them on what they should be doing.  All businesses will get education the first time and if they do not make changes before a return visit will then be cited with administrative sanctions, which could put their license in jeopardy.

A new ABD Publication titled “Iowa’s Alcoholic Beverages Laws and You” was provided to all merchants in attendance. This publication spells out the Iowa Code in a way that is easier to understand than the legal jargon in the laws. The publication provides the licensee with a quick, go-to guide if they have any questions about regulations or licensing. The Van Buren County SAFE Coalition has copies of the publication for businesses for free if they were unable to attend the event. You can obtain copies by calling 319-293-6412 or email at

It is important that licensees and local authorities are aware of the regulations in Iowa Code section 123 and this meeting was able to do just that. For anyone who was unable to attend but would like the information there will be other meetings held across the state over the course of the next year. Licensees and local authorities can contact Karen Freund at ABD to get additional information on dates and to register: For information on how the SAFE Coalition can assist your businesses you may contact the coalition at 319-293-6412 or via email at

Friday, November 30, 2012

Iowa Governor’s Bullying Prevention Summit

On November 27, 2012 Governor Terry Branstad and Lt. Governor Kim Reynolds held the Iowa Governor’s Bullying Prevention Summit in Des Moines, Iowa. This summit was intended to raise awareness about the pervasive problem of bullying, and to send the strongest possible message that our schools alone cannot stop it, that communities must become more engaged in taking the steps needed to address this issue.

Although awareness is growing, many Iowans may be surprised at the extent of bullying that takes place at school, from teasing to major incidents that make the news. The 2010 Iowa Youth Survey reported 50 percent of students surveyed said that in the last 30 days they had been bullied at school in one of the following ways: “I was called names, was made fun of, or teased in a hurtful way; other students left me out of things on purpose, excluded me from their group of friends, or completely ignored me; I was hit, kicked, pushed, shoved around, or locked indoors; other students told lies, spread false rumors about me, and tried to make others dislike me; I was made fun of because of my race or color; I was made fun of because of my religion; other students made sexual jokes, comments, or gestures that hurt my feelings; I have received a threatening or hurtful message from another student in an email, on a website, on a cell phone, from pager text messaging, in an internet chat room, or in instant messaging.”

This is unacceptable. Creating a caring environment at school is important for every student’s well-being. It affects how successfully youngsters can focus on learning as well as the other skills they need to develop to make the most of their potential and to be good citizens. Iowa schools and communities have been working hard on anti-bullying efforts. The summit was an opportunity to learn from some of them, as well as other state and national experts, about how to make schools a more civil, welcoming place for everyone.

Students and staff from both Van Buren and Harmony School Districts attended this event. One student noted one of the things that stood out to her was that “It takes a whole community to stop bullying, not just one program or one school, it takes everyone.” Another piece of information that was gained from the event was a quote that the Waukee high school had shared; “Always treat each other with kindness and respect”. One student felt this should be a motto here in Van Buren County. “If we remember that before we speak or act, it could help us from making mistakes that could result in bullying” said Abby Rider- Van Buren High School Junior. Students in both school districts are working on videos that will show some of the effects of bullying as well as things their school is doing to help prevent bullying from happening. Staff members feel it is important to revisit their bullying/and harassment policies with students and staff on a regular basis to ensure everyone is complying with the guidelines set forth by the state and the districts.

For more information on the bullying prevention summit you may visit their website at: A re-broadcast of the Summit was aired on IPTV on November 29th and will be available online after December 7th at:

Great American Smokeout Coloring Contest Winners

The Van Buren Community Schools Youth Leadership Council (YLC) sponsored a coloring contest for the 4th, 5th and 6th graders at Douds Elementary School during the month of November 2012. The winners of the contest are:

4th Grade
1st place – Anna Beebe
2nd Place – Natalia Damico
3rd Place – Jakob Watson
4th Place – Kayla Livesay

5th Grade
1st place – Grace Davidson
1st Place – Kamryn Banks
3rd Place – Chloe Davidson
4th Place – Phoenix Hunt

6th Grade
1st place – Hannah Hunt
2nd Place – Victoria Halverson
3rd Place – Clay Neeley
4th Place – Chase Ingwersen

All of the pictures entered in the contest are hanging in the halls of the Douds Elementary School for the students to see! Congratulations to one and all!

If you are interested in knowing more about the Great American Smokeout or the Van Buren County YLC Group please contact the Van Buren County SAFE Coalition at or 319-293-6412.

Monday, November 26, 2012

Reasons to Keep Medical Marijuana Out of Iowa

During the 2012 election season two states passed Medical Marijuana Measures as ballot initiatives. This is not something the SAFE Coalition would like to see happen in Iowa. These are a few of the reasons why.

If the community cares about IQ levels and academic performance, it needs to oppose “medical” marijuana, marijuana legalization and/or decriminalization. Why? Marijuana use lowers IQ, because marijuana use negatively effects motivation, memory and learning! A recent study found that those who used cannabis heavily in their teens and continued through adulthood showed a permanent drop in IQ of eight points. A loss of eight IQ points could drop a person of average intelligence into the lowest third of the intelligence range. (M.H. Meier, Avshalom Caspi, et al. 2012 “Persistent cannabis users show neuropsychological decline from childhood to midlife.” Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences)

If the community cares about jobs, it needs to oppose “medical” marijuana, marijuana legalization and/or decriminalization. Why? More than 6,000 companies nationwide and scores of industries and professions require a pre-employment drug test. Since 6.6% of high school seniors nationally smoke marijuana every day, it renders them virtually unemployable because they will fail the pre-employment drug test.

If the community cares about highway safety in Iowa, it needs to oppose marijuana legalization. Why? Marijuana is the most prevalent illegal drug detected in impaired drivers, fatally injured drivers, and motor vehicle crash victims. According to Colorado Department of Transportation, drivers who tested positive for marijuana in fatal car crashes DOUBLED between 2006, when medical marijuana was legalized, and 2010.

If the community cares about crime and public safety, it needs to oppose “medical” marijuana, marijuana legalization and/or decriminalization. Why? Marijuana dispensaries lead to increased crime. Since most are cash only businesses, they tend to attract crime. Dispensaries often are tied to criminal organizations and deal with things like guns and other drugs. Dispensaries rarely have legitimate physicians available. We do not want pot shops in our neighborhoods!

If the community cares about the economy, it needs to oppose “medical” marijuana, marijuana legalization and/or decriminalization. Why? The total overall costs of substance abuse in the U.S., including productivity, health and crime-related costs exceed $600 billion annually. This includes approximately: $235 billion for alcohol, $193 billion for tobacco and $181 billion for illicit drugs. Federal and state alcohol taxes raise $14.5 billion, covering only about 6% of alcohol’s total cost to society. Federal and state tobacco taxes raise $25 billion, covering only about 13% of tobacco’s total cost to society. (Office of National Drug Control Policy - The Economic Costs of Drug Abuse in the United States, Executive Office of the President (Publication No. 207303) 2004)

If the community cares about youth drug use rates, it needs to oppose “medical” marijuana, marijuana legalization and/or decriminalization. Why? Studies show that states with medical marijuana have drug use rates twice the rate of other states. 74% of kids in treatment for addiction in Denver now report getting their pot from medical marijuana card holders.

If the community cares about the safety of medicines in the country, it needs to oppose “medical” marijuana. Why? There is a longstanding, effective national process in place to approve the efficacy and safety of medicines through the FDA and ballot initiatives circumvent the process. There is no scientific basis for using smoked marijuana as a medicine. Most “medical” marijuana users are not sick! According to Colorado’s State Department of Health, only 2% of users reported cancer, and less than 1% reported HIV/AIDS as their reason for cannabis use. The vast majority (94%) reported severe pain as their illness. The average “medical” marijuana user is a 32 year old white male with a history of alcohol, cocaine and meth use, but NO history of a life threatening illness.

Friday, November 16, 2012

Great American Smokeout Article

By: Sidney Frey, Tiffany Cochenour and Anna Snead
7th grade Youth Leadership Council (YLC) Members

Taylor Murguia, Meredith Miller,
Abby Rider, Jordan Billups,
Lydia Heald & Katelyn Davisson

Isabel Neeley, Olivia Denney,
McKenzie Perry, Jacinta Wenke,
Chase Murphy & Brian Hervey

Thursday, November 15th was the Great American Smokeout. The 7th grade YLC members planned a variety of activities. They wore black t-shirts backwards to show that students are turning their back on tobacco. We made locker signs, posters a radio ad and are also working on a TV ad that will air later in the year.

The Great American Smokeout is to encourage people to stop smoking. Here are some facts about tobacco that might help you quit:
• Spit tobacco users have higher risk of heart disease.
• Tobacco causes yellow, stained teeth, and bad breath.

Some of the reasons you should quit are:
• Smoking causes premature aging and is linked to wrinkles.
• 80% of teens would rather date a non-smoker.
• Smoke increases the risk of sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS) if you are a parent who smokes around a new baby.
• Smoking kills and estimated 25,000 people annually in the United States.
• Cigar smokers place themselves at risk for mouth and lung cancer, coronary hear disease, stroke, heart attack and emphysema.

If you do use tobacco we hope some of the information we have provided will help you decide to quit, if you need help quitting you may contact the American Cancer Society at or Quitline Iowa at 1800QUITNOW or online at

Thursday, November 8, 2012

Great American Smokeout 2012

By: McKenzie Perry and Jacinta Wenke

November 15th 2012 is the Great American Smokeout. In Iowa roughly 45,700 high school students smoke each year, the Great American Smokeout is a national day devoted to reducing that number. YLC members are going to be assisting with this initiative by doing cigarette butt cleanups in Van Buren County. YLC members McKenzie Perry, Jacinta Wenke, Olivia Denney, Isabel Neeley, Chase Murphy, and Brian Hervey will be visiting the park in Birmingham and picking up cigarette butts in and around the playground. “We are doing this to show the community the amount of smoking that happens in their park, the dangers of second hand smoke for children and ask them to make this area tobacco-free”.

Did you know- Secondhand smoke kills an estimated 25,000 people annually in the United States. Secondhand smoke also increases the risk of SIDS (Sudden Infant Death Syndrome) in infants.

The Great American Smokeout (GASO), sponsored by the American Cancer Society, is an annual event taking place on the third Thursday of November that encourages smokers to use the date of the observance to make their plan to quit smoking for good or to plan in advance and quit smoking that day.

During GASO, local, state and national organizations work to increase community awareness of the dangers of smoking as well as to emphasize the rights of nonsmokers to breathe smoke-free air in public places. GASO provides an opportunity for:

• Tobacco users to make a quit attempt, with permanent cessation adding years to their lives
• Friends, family, and health care professionals to encourage and support quit attempts
• Media organizations to run stories encouraging quitting
• Governmental and nongovernmental organizations to redouble their efforts to make our environment more conducive to quitting than continuing to use tobacco

Quitting smoking is the single best way smokers can protect their health, and quitting at any age has benefits. Tobacco use remains the single largest preventable cause of disease, disability and premature death in the United States, yet more than 45 million Americans still smoke. For information on quitting tobacco use check out the American Cancer Society’s Website at

Use this day as your opportunity to quit tobacco use and support the YLC members in their efforts to make the parks in Van Buren County tobacco-free areas.

For more information about YLC activities or the Great American Smokeout you may contact the SAFE Coalition at 319-293-6412 or via email at

Thursday, November 1, 2012

Why is a Code of Conduct Important? Harmony Revises Code of Conduct

Every school year, millions of student athletes across the country sign a code of conduct. This is done with the hope and expectation that chemical health violations and other behaviors of concern will be brought into check. However, for the most part student codes of conduct are poorly written which can lead to nullification either in the courts or simply through parental dissent. Not only is a poorly written code a concern but a well written code can have just as many problems if the people charged with enforcing the code do not apply the rules and regulations fairly and without prejudice. Data collected by the American Athletic Institute substantiated previous claims that athlete alcohol use actually surpasses general student population use between tenth and eleventh grade. Much of the problem was attributed to ineffective codes of conduct.

The Harmony community school district is currently in the process of reviewing and revising their extra-curricular code of conduct. A team of school staff, coaches, board members, parents, students and SAFE Coalition representatives have been meeting over the past three months. They have reviewed policies from other schools across the state including neighboring schools, Van Buren and Central Lee. After reviewing other policies the group determined the pieces they felt were a good fit for the Harmony district and developed a draft of the policy. This draft is being reviewed before sending it to the school board for review and approval. The committee felt the current policy was antiquated and did not cover all of the conduct concerns that schools are seeing today.

Harmony students have been a big part of this process and have provided valuable insight into what they feel is important to have in their school policy. They want students in their school to be held to a high standard, which will in-turn improve the sportsmanship, team moral and overall school spirit. Once this policy has been finalized information on the revisions will be provided to each parent and student of the district. There will also be additional information available in the local newspapers and on the school website.

If you are interested in more information on the process of the committee you may contact Heather Lightfoot at the Harmony High School 319-592-3192 or the Van Buren County SAFE Coalition office at 319-293-6412 or

Friday, October 26, 2012

NIDA launches new tool for parents: Family Checkup: Positive Parenting Prevents Drug Abuse

As part of of National Substance Abuse Prevention Month, the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) has launched Family Checkup: Positive Parenting Prevents Drug Abuse, an online resource that equips parents with research-based skills to help keep their children drug-free. The research results from NIDA highlight the essential role parents play in teaching their families about the consequences of the use and abuse of substances including tobacco, alcohol, marijuana, and prescription drugs.

Family Checkup, hosted on NIDA’s website (, poses questions for parents to consider as they interact with their children; highlighting parenting skills that are important in preventing the initiation and progression of drug use among youth. The resource incorporates video examples that show parents how-to and how-not-to emulate each of five skills beginning with communication, then encouragement, negotiation, setting limits, and supervision with their own children. Each question, developed by the Child and Family Center at the University of Oregon, presents the skill by first explaining its importance. The information is also available for download as a PDF.

This type of early intervention does a great deal to mitigate the potential for substance abuse and addiction among teens and young adults. By providing accurate information about the risks of substance abuse and addiction, and through practicing positive communication skills, parents can help prevent drug use during the critical teenage years.

If you are interested in a walk-through of the site please plan to attend Parent-Teacher Conferences at the Van Buren Community High School on Monday, November 5, 2012 or Tuesday, November 6, 2012 from 4:30 -8:00 pm. The SAFE Coalition will have computers to show you how to access the site and it’s features.

For more information, you can contact the SAFE Coalition at 319-293-6412 or by email at or the NIDA press office at or 301-443-6245.

Red Ribbon Week- Live Drug-Free

Red Ribbon Week, held annually during the last week in October, is a nationwide effort to celebrate healthy, drug-free living and to motivate youth across the country to choose to live drug-free. The week serves as a great opportunity to create dialogue with youth, to mobilize your community, and to honor law enforcement officers who work every day to keep communities safe from drugs and the associated consequences.

Several recent studies, including the 2009 National Survey on Drug Use and Health, indicate perceptions among youth about dangers of substance use are down, while substance use is up. The NSDUH study also showed that prevalence of substance use was lower among those youth who reported having seen or heard drug or alcohol prevention messages in the past year from sources outside of school than among those who reported having no such exposure (7.4 percent versus 10.5 percent, respectively).

This finding highlights the importance of drug prevention programs such as those operated by Drug Free Communities coalitions and the National Youth Anti-Drug Media Campaign, as well as the importance of leveraging Red Ribbon Week to engage youth in drug prevention activities. Hundreds of organizations across the country use Red Ribbon Week to bring drug prevention messaging to their communities through events and activities.

The Van Buren County Youth Leadership Council (YLC) Members engaged youth, parents, and leaders in this community during this year's Red Ribbon Week and brought awareness to the dangers and consequences of drug use since it is more important than ever. Activities the youth were involved in included: Red Ribbon week announcements, peer teaching in the elementary school and posters in their school and community.

Take time to talk to your teen about the dangers of drugs, alcohol and tobacco. For information on talking to your teens check out the website:

For more information on Red Ribbon Week you may contact the SAFE Coalition at 319-293-6412 or via email at

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

YLC Students Attend County Wide Training

On October 10, 2012 there was a Youth Leadership Council (YLC) training held at the Roberts Building. This training was for Van Buren and Harmony Community School District YLC Student Members in 7th – 12th grade. At this training they participated in various activities to help lead teens in the county in being above the influence of the negative things in their lives.

The youth participated in four different workshops that focused on teamwork, leadership, living above the influence and helping create a safer community. There was a workshop on team building. There were three different activities the YLC members participated in that helped them to work together as a team. An Above the Influence activity was held that allowed the members think about what keeps them above the influence of drugs and alcohol. They displayed their ideas on posters for all to see.
The members planned activities they would like to do in their communities to encourage others to be drug, alcohol and tobacco free as well. Each grade/school planned their activities for the rest of the year during this time.

Finally, the members were trained by their peers on how to be a youth leader in their schools and communities. Peer teachers for this session were Lydia Heald, Cassie Johnson, Drew Nolting and Abby Rider. These four students have all attended a national youth leadership training to prepare them to train and lead other students in their community.

All of the students had fun and learned new things. They were able to work together as a large group for the entire day, making it easy to get a lot accomplished! This type of training allows the students to come up with new ways to influence their peers to make good decisions! For more information on the YLC program or the training you may contact the SAFE Coalition at 319-293-6412.

Monday, October 15, 2012


Today is the first ever National “Above the Influence” (ATI) Day. Taking place during National Substance Abuse Prevention Month in October, ATI Day is a time to celebrate youth living the “Above the Influence” lifestyle and to recognize the power of prevention efforts in local communities. This annual tradition will reinforce ATI as a central substance abuse prevention tool on the national level and among community partners, key stakeholders, and youth around the country.

200 groups across the nation are planning to hold at least one ATI activity or event during October. In addition, 85 communities plan to conduct ATI discussion forums on Oct. 18, providing opportunities for youth to discuss the influences they face at home, school, and in the community.

Director Kerlikowske and ONDCP’s three Deputy Directors will host ATI discussion forums in four communities around the country. The anchor event at the District of Columbia’s Newseum will feature a teen panel discussion and ATI-inspired performances by local teens.

Locally, Van Buren Youth Leadership Council (YLC) members are holding a variety of activities to support Above the Influence Day and show how students in our community are “Above the Influence”. At their Youth Leadership Training last week all students designed an above the influence logo to represent why they were above the influence. Alena Whitaker from Harmony High School had the winning design and will be featured in future ATI marketing materials (see photo).

The high school YLC members will be holding a poster/slogan contest for students in 7th and 8th grade at Van Buren Middle School. This contest will encourage students to think of a six word slogan that describes their life. They will design a poster related to their slogan that will be on display on ATI day and a winner will be selected. They will also be posting a variety of Above the Influence posters and youth designs around the school and community. Many of these posters show how students pledge to be above the influence.

A final activity for the week encourages students to draw the above the influence logo somewhere, take a picture of it and post it to the ATI Facebook page. This is a national activity that local youth are participating in to showcase their commitment to being above the influence of drugs, alcohol and tobacco. Announcements will be read at school and a radio show will be done to promote these events! Be watching for these activities and keep encouraging these students to live Above the Influence.

For more information on ATI Day you may contact the coalition at 319-293-6412 or visit the ATI webpage at

Friday, October 5, 2012

A Dose of Prevention: Protecting Our Teens from Medicine Abuse

As parents, aunts, uncles, grandparents, teachers, and other concerned adults, we spend a lot of time helping teens circumvent the challenges that could ground them for life. Perhaps one of the biggest challenges teens face is substance abuse. While we may talk to them about the hazards of alcohol use, drunk driving, and of abusing illegal drugs like marijuana, heroin, and cocaine, we often forget about those drugs that are found right in our own medicine cabinets – prescription and over-the-counter medicines.

Nationally, prescription (Rx) drugs are the second most abused category of drugs after marijuana, with one in five young adults reporting that they have abused a prescription drug. In addition, according to the 2011 Monitoring the Future Survey, 5 percent of teens have abused over-the-counter (OTC) cough medicines containing the active ingredient dextromethorphan (DXM) to get high over the past year. When abused in extreme excess—sometimes as much as 25 to 50 times the recommended dose—DXM can produce dangerous side effects, especially when combined with alcohol, illicit drugs, or certain prescription drugs.

So why is this happening? Surveys show that today’s teens find Rx medication abuse as an acceptable and safer alternative to illicit drug use. The thinking goes, “these drugs are prescribed by doctors and available at local drug stores so how bad can they be?” Easy access also plays a role. After all, Rx and OTC medicines are found right in our own medicine cabinets, at a friend or family member’s home, or at local drug stores.

That’s why it’s vital that caregivers be vigilant of the possible signs of abuse. If you see your child making frequent purchases of OTC cough medicines from the same or different stores, or from the Internet (for example, note the arrival of unexpected packages); or if you find empty bottles or packages of cough medicine in his/her bedroom, your internal alarm should go off. And if you notice that he/she is exhibiting odd behavior, excessive mood swings, has an increase or decrease in sleep, declining grades or a loss of interest in friends and activities then chances are something’s up and whether it’s due to prescription or over-the-counter medicine abuse, or something else, it’s worth talking to them about it.

So while you can’t protect your children and teens from everything that can hurt them, you CAN make a difference when it comes to prescription and over-the-counter medicine. Talk to them about the dangers of medicine abuse; safeguard your medicines; keep track of the medicines in your home and learn how to properly dispose of medications when they are no longer needed. And remember to model good behavior by not sharing your medications and only taking them according to your doctor’s orders or by following the instructions on the label.

Locally the Van Buren County Sheriff’s Reserve Officers and the Van Buren County SAFE Coalition have been sponsoring Prescription Drug Take Back Events. On September 29, 2012 one of these events was held in Farmington. During the event eight pounds of expired or unused prescription medications were collected. Lee’s Pharmacy in Keosauqua will accept and dispose of unused prescription and over the counter medications that you would like to dispose of safely. Lee Pharmacy cannot accept controlled substances, these need to be disposed of at the Prescription Drug Take Back Events. The next Prescription Drug Take Back Event will be held in April 2013.

For more information on prescription and over the counter medication abuse you can view the Prevent Rx Abuse site at or contact the SAFE Coalition by phone at 319-293-6412 or by email at or check out the SAFE Coalition website and blog at

Monday, October 1, 2012

Youth Leadership Council News

By: Meredith Miller

As the school year has started the YLC program has been thinking of new ways to help inform the community and school about the affects of drugs and alcohol abuse. So far we have had three meetings in those meetings we have been brainstorming ways to help create our "ideal" school and community. Some of the ideas that were tossed around included more interactive things for the youth to do throughout the community as well as creating a more stable learning environment in the schools.

Another event for the YLC program is an upcoming training held at the Roberts Memorial Building. The event will be held on October 10th. This will help inform new members and help returning members stay up to date on prevention. This training will also be a chance for the club to come up with new ideas for more specific awareness events throughout the year such as; Kick Butts Day, Alcohol Awareness Month, and Red Ribbon Week. As a group we are excited to get started and make changes in the community and we hope that the community members see all the positives changes!

YLC Members training their peers at the Youth Leadership
Training held on October 25, 2011
Any student in Van Buren County who is interested in joining YLC can contact coordinator, Heidi Bainbridge at For more information you can check out the YLC website or Facebook page located at or contact us by phone at 319-293-6412.

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Van Buren County Sheriff’s Reserve and SAFE Coalition will be Taking Back Unwanted Prescription Drugs on September 29, 2012 at the Farmington Fire Station

On September 29th from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. the Van Buren County Sheriff’s Reserve Officers, the Van Buren County SAFE Coalition and the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) will give the public another opportunity to prevent pill abuse and theft by ridding their homes of potentially dangerous expired, unused, and unwanted prescription drugs. Bring your medications for disposal to the Farmington Fire Department on the corner of Pearl & 4th Street in Farmington, IA. The service is free and anonymous, no questions asked.

Last April, Americans turned in 552,161 pounds—276 tons—of prescription drugs at over 5,600 sites operated by the DEA and nearly 4,300 state and local law enforcement partners. In its four previous Take Back events, DEA and its partners took in over 1.5 million pounds—nearly 775 tons—of pills.

This initiative addresses a vital public safety and public health issue. Medicines that linger in home cabinets are highly susceptible to diversion, misuse, and abuse. Rates of prescription drug abuse in the U.S. are alarmingly high, as are the number of accidental poisonings and overdoses due to these drugs. Studies show that a majority of abused prescription drugs are obtained from family and friends, including from the home medicine cabinet. In addition, Americans are now advised that their usual methods for disposing of unused medicines—flushing them down the toilet or throwing them in the trash—both pose potential safety and health hazards.

Four days after the first event Congress passed the Secure and Responsible Drug Disposal Act of 2010 which amends the Controlled Substances Act to allow an “ultimate user” of controlled substance medications to dispose of them by delivering them to entities authorized by the Attorney General to accept them. The Act also allows the Attorney General to authorize long term care facilities to dispose of their residents’ controlled substances in certain instances. DEA is drafting regulations to implement the Act. Until new regulations are in place, local law enforcement agencies like the Van Buren County Sheriff’s Reserve and SAFE Coalition and the DEA will continue to hold prescription drug take-back events. Unused or expired prescriptions can also be returned to Lee Pharmacy, Keosauqua, IA for safe disposal at anytime.

For more information on the National Prescription Drug Take Back Day and Initiative please visit the DEA Site at: or contact the SAFE Coalition at 319-293-6412 or or visit the Coalition website at

Friday, September 14, 2012

Have a Meal Together- September 24th- 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 that 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 Children TM 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 an hour or less. Teens that 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 Children TM 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 24th in 2012—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

Friday, September 7, 2012

Parents Find Talking with Kids about Drugs Complicated by Legalization Measures

Parents are finding it more difficult to have discussions with their children about why they shouldn’t use drugs, as a growing number of states are allowing medical marijuana, or considering legalizing recreational use of the drug, the Associated Press reports.

Colorado and Washington State will vote on legalizing recreational use of marijuana for adults on November 6. Currently, 17 states have legalized medical marijuana. More than a dozen states, and many cities, no longer have criminal penalties for small-scale possession of marijuana, or have made it a low-priority crime for law enforcement.

Parent-child conversations about marijuana “have become extraordinarily complicated,” said Stephen Pasierb, President of The Partnership at, a national non-profit organization helping parents and families solve the problem of teen substance abuse. Legalization and medical use of marijuana have “created a perception among kids that this is no big deal,” Pasierb said. “You need a calm, rational conversation, not yelling and screaming, and you need the discipline to listen to your child.”

A survey released last month by The Partnership at suggests teen marijuana use has become a normalized behavior. Only 26 percent agree with the statement, “In my school, most teens don’t smoke marijuana,” down from 37 percent in 2008.

On the 2010 Iowa Youth Survey 76% of the 11th graders said they believe it is dangerous to use marijuana and 95% of them believe it is wrong to use marijuana. Finally, 3% of the local 11th graders reported using marijuana in the past 30 days. These statistics show that marijuana use is not a large problem at this time in Van Buren County, but it is something that we as a community need to stay aware of and continue to educate our children about the dangers of using marijuana. These conversations are necessary as 49 % of local 11th graders reported that it is very easy or easy to get marijuana in their community.

For information on how to talk with your children about marijuana please contact the Van Buren County SAFE Coalition at 319-293-6412 or via email at Check out, the coalition’s website and blog at or visit the coalitions Face Book page at Van Buren County SAFE Coalition.

Thursday, August 30, 2012

Van Buren County Sheriff’s Reserve and SAFE Coalition will be Taking Back Unwanted Prescription Drugs on September 29, 2012 at the Farmington Fire Station

On September 29th from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. the Van Buren County Sheriff’s Reserve Officers, the Van Buren County SAFE Coalition and the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) will give the public another opportunity to prevent pill abuse and theft by ridding their homes of potentially dangerous expired, unused, and unwanted prescription drugs. Bring your medications for disposal to the Farmington Fire Department on the corner of Pearl & 4th Street in Farmington, IA. The service is free and anonymous, no questions asked.

Last April, Americans turned in 552,161 pounds—276 tons—of prescription drugs at over 5,600 sites operated by the DEA and nearly 4,300 state and local law enforcement partners. In its four previous Take Back events, DEA and its partners took in over 1.5 million pounds—nearly 775 tons—of pills.

This initiative addresses a vital public safety and public health issue. Medicines that linger in home cabinets are highly susceptible to diversion, misuse, and abuse. Rates of prescription drug abuse in the U.S. are alarmingly high, as are the number of accidental poisonings and overdoses due to these drugs. Studies show that a majority of abused prescription drugs are obtained from family and friends, including from the home medicine cabinet. In addition, Americans are now advised that their usual methods for disposing of unused medicines—flushing them down the toilet or throwing them in the trash—both pose potential safety and health hazards.

Four days after the first event Congress passed the Secure and Responsible Drug Disposal Act of 2010 which amends the Controlled Substances Act to allow an “ultimate user” of controlled substance medications to dispose of them by delivering them to entities authorized by the Attorney General to accept them. The Act also allows the Attorney General to authorize long term care facilities to dispose of their residents’ controlled substances in certain instances. DEA is drafting regulations to implement the Act. Until new regulations are in place, local law enforcement agencies like the Van Buren County Sheriff’s Reserve and SAFE Coalition and the DEA will continue to hold prescription drug take-back events. Unused or expired prescriptions can also be returned to Lee Pharmacy, Keosauqua, IA for safe disposal at anytime.

For more information on the National Prescription Drug Take Back Day and Initiative please visit the DEA Site at: or contact the SAFE Coalition at 319-293-6412 or or visit the Coalition website at

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Youth Leadership Council News

The Van Buren Youth Leadership Council members were busy over the summer. While there were no regular meetings scheduled the students were active throughout the summer.

I-STEP Summit- In July three Van Buren youth were selected to attend the I-Step Summit in Des Moines. This was a one day summit intended to replace the JEL summit from years past. This was a very informative day that allowed the students to develop goals and a plan for their upcoming year. Two Van Buren youth were selected to be members of the State of Iowa I-STEP executive Council for next year; Drew Nolting and Cassie Johnson.

CADCA Youth Leadership Initiative- Lydia Heald applied this summer to be a youth facilitator for the CADCA National Youth Leadership Initiative. She was selected to attend the trainings and participate in the Training of Trainers (TOT). She spent a very intensive week learning and participating in the training in Nashville, TN. She will learn later this fall if she has been selected to be on the next training team and what her duties will include.

SAFE and Healthy Kids Fair- YLC members once again set up a booth at the Van Buren County SAFE and Healthy Kids Fair this summer. They had alcohol and tobacco questions that allowed the kids to either make a bracelet or throw balls at the dunk tank. This is always a hit for the youth members as it is usually a pretty warm day. Information on the dangers of drugs, alcohol and tobacco are provided to the kids who attend the fair.

Boone Youth Leadership Training- Twelve Van Buren YLC members were selected to attend a youth leadership training in Boone in August. Six of the YLC members were selected as youth facilitators and assisted with the training during the week. This training taught the students about being leaders in their community, speaking up for what they believe in and identifying and making changes to problems they see in their community.

National Conference on Tobacco or Health- Drew Nolting was selected from the state of Iowa to attend this conference in Kansas City, MO in August. The purpose of the National Conference on Tobacco or Health is to help improve and sustain the effectiveness and reach of tobacco control programs and activities in the United States. Drew was able to take part in a youth track and brought back some great ideas for things the youth coalition can implement in Van Buren County.

If you see any of these members congratulate them on their accomplishments and for keeping busy this summer! As the school year starts the YLC members will have monthly or bi-monthly meetings to begin work toward their yearly goals at both Van Buren and Harmony schools. Their will be a training held in late September to bring all members together and work on county-wide plan for making a change in their community. Be watching for more YLC activities throughout the year and support them in the work that they do- their main goal is to make Van Buren County a better place to live!

You may find out more about the YLC program, their meetings and events on the website at or by calling the coalition office at 319-293-6412.

Thursday, August 16, 2012

Back to School Activities: It’s 3pm on a school day. Do you know where your children are?

As summer vacations end and students start a new school year, here are a few reasons you should encourage them to get involved with after-school activities:

• Children & teens are more likely to be the victims of crime during the after-school hours than at any other time
• Children & teens are more likely to participate in violent crimes during the after-school hours than at any other time
• Children & teens are more likely to engage in risky behaviors such as tobacco, alcohol or drug use or sexual activity during the after-school hours than at any other time
Courtesy National Youth Violence Prevention Resource Center

Our young children often attend after school daycare or programs provided by their elementary schools, but by the time children reach middle school they are often left on their own after school. It seems sensible enough. They are old enough to get their own snacks and open their books to complete their homework. They know who to call if they have an emergency. However, adolescents benefit from after-school activities and supervision, too.

Youth who spend only a couple of hours per week in extracurricular after-school activities are significantly less likely to drop out of school; become teen parents; or use tobacco, alcohol or drugs. Spending 5-19 hours per week in after-school activities reduced the risk even further.

It is important that these activities are not just time wasters, but are programs that help youth develop skills and values and provide them with experiences that mean something to them.

It doesn't take a lot. Our schools offer a variety of after-school clubs, sports and activities. Encourage your children to find something that interests them and participate regularly.

For information on keeping your kids active or more information on the SAFE Coalition you can visit us on the web at or contact us at 319-293-6412.

Thursday, August 9, 2012

Van Buren Elementary School Back to School BBQ August 16, 2012

Are you ready to head back to school? Come and join the community for a fun family friendly event at the school! Meet the staff of the Van Buren Community Elementary School and learn a little about them. Enjoy a meal and earn door prizes from community sponsors!

This event will be held on August 16, 2012 from 4:00 pm to 7:00 pm at the Van Buren Elementary School in Douds.

• A meal will be provided starting at 5:00 pm.
• Door prizes will be awarded throughout the evening.

The BBQ is being sponsored by: Keosauqua Chamber, Keosauqua Rotary, Bethel Worship Center, Van Buren Community Schools, Van Buren County SAFE Coalition and other community organizations!

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.

Monday, August 6, 2012

Harmony Back to School Event August 18, 2012

You are invited to a family friendly event! Enjoy kid’s games, bounce house, a meal and door prizes. Come out and join us as we head back to school!

This event will be held on August 18, 2012 from 5:00 pm to 8:00 pm at the Harmony High School Athletic Complex.

• A meal will be provided.
• Door prizes will be awarded during the evening.

The Event is being sponsored by: Harmony PTO, Harmony Sports Boosters, Van Buren County SAFE Coalition and other community organizations! For more information on this event please contact Sheila Smith at 319-592-3539 or check for information online at

Friday, August 3, 2012

Youth Attend I-Step Summit, Two Join the Executive Council

Drew Nolting and Cassie Johnson
Van Buren County
I-STEP Executive Council Members
The Van Buren County YLC had three youth members attend the I-Step Summit in Des Moines on Thursday, July 26. Drew Nolting a junior at Van Buren High School is a member of the I-Step Executive Council and helped present at the summit. During the summit youth could apply to be on the I-Step Executive Council for the 2011-2012 year. Cassie Johnson applied and was selected to join the I-Step Executive Council. She will be joining Drew Nolting who joined the council in 2010.

Drew, being on the executive council, was a model in the fashion show, a judge in the cooking show and assisted with many other activities throughout the day. Drew felt that the speaker, Representative Ako Abdul-Samad, was very inspiring and spoke directly to the youth about how to be themselves. He encouraged students not to be influenced by others and the media, to always be true to your values and beliefs. Drew’s favorite part of the day was the street marketing event that showed how “Big Tobacco” targets youth and how the youth learned to fight back.

Other members who attended the summit were Cassie Johnson and Isabel Neeley. Cassie is a junior at Van Buren High School and this was her third year to attend the summit. Even though the summit was much different this year than years past she brought home some good information. She enjoyed the skits performed and thinks they are something they could use for their peers. What Cassie liked the most about the day was sitting down with the members from her county and planning what the groups goals would be for the year. At the end of the day the youth participated in a street marketing event with water balloons that was a lot of fun.

Isabel Neeley is a freshman at Van Buren High School and this was her first time attending the summit. Isabel had a lot of fun and learned a lot of interesting things to bring back to the other members. She really liked the fashion show, the cooking show and the street marketing event. Her favorite part of the day was when they did the group dance.

To learn more about the Van Buren County YLC program go to

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

2012-2013 Van Buren Middle/High School Conduct Policy FAQ’s

Back to school time is upon us and it is in this time that we take time to remind you about Van Buren Community School Districts’ Code of Conduct. A couple of revisions have been made to the conduct policy since last year and we want to be sure you are aware of these changes. Lets’ start with what hasn’t changed:

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.

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.

What is covered in the policy?
Any violation of the policy would be that in which a student is not conducting themselves in a proper and/or legal manner. Students are expected to maintain high standards of behavior both on and off school grounds as they are a representation of the district. Violations could include but are not limited to; alcohol, drug or tobacco use, of being in the presence of these substances, bullying/harassment of others both verbally and via electronic communications, any act that would be grounds for arrest, inappropriate or offensive behaviors and any use of online communication that depicts inappropriate behavior or disparages the school district. For a full list of violations please refer to the policy.

What is new this year?
The 2012/2013 revised conduct policy has a new probationary period for students who have entered the 9th (freshman) grade. This probationary period is to give those students who received violations during middle school an opportunity to show that they have grown and learned from their mistakes. If they complete their freshman year with no conduct violations, all previous violations will be expunged from their record for their 10th (sophomore) year moving forward. If any violations are received during the 9th grade year all violations will carry forward.

For more information on the policy you may contact the school administrator or the school board office for a copy of the policy and more details.

Monday, July 16, 2012

Local Youth Chosen to be a National Youth Trainer

Congratulations to Lydia Heald for being selected to become a National Youth Leadership Initiative Trainer. Lydia lives in Keosauqua and will be a junior at Van Buren County High School this fall. Lydia has been a member of the Van Buren County Youth Leadership Council (YLC) for four years.

Lydia is a part of YLC because she has experienced first hand the affects that drug and alcohol abuse has on families. That has pushed her to become a bigger and better person. She feels that she is a role model in the community and by being a part of YLC she can show many young children how to push past all of the negative things and just focus on the positive things in their lives. Lydia decided to apply to be a CADCA Trainer because she not only wants to help people in her community, but she also wants to make an impact on people all across the world and CADCA can help her do that.

Lydia is very active in the community. She works as a waitress at Riverbend Pizza & Steak House and is a lifeguard and WSI swim instructor at the Riverview Country Club in Keosauqua. She is on the volleyball, softball, golf, basketball and color guard teams at Van Buren County High School. She participates in the YLC, Spanish Club, Science Club, ETC and Rachel’s Challenge as well. Her favorite subject in school is Science. She is also a member of the Leo Club in Keosauqua.

CADCA's National Youth Leadership Initiative (NYLI) is a component of the CADCA Institute's National Coalition Academy and, like the Academy, requires completion of an application process and acceptance prior to participation. Youth trained by CADCA are demonstrating that they are the leaders of today and for the future!

Lydia was selected as one of twenty youth from across the country to participate in this unique opportunity. They only select youth trainers once every 5 years from hundreds of applicants.

Lydia will travel to Nashville, Tennessee to begin her duties by attending a CADCA Training of Trainers from July 21-28, 2012. Once she has completed the training she will be equipped to teach youth from across the country how to effect change in their communities. Lydia has been successful in doing this locally with the Van Buren County Youth Leadership Council and will be a great addition to the CADCA – NYLI training team!


All Cowboys and Cowgirls
Come Lasso Some Fun at the
August 2nd — 3:30 to 5:30 p.m.
The Child Abuse Prevention Council will be sponsoring the seventh annual “Safe and Healthy” Kids Fair. The event will take place on Thursday, August 2, 2012 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 theme this year will be a Western Rodeo and 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 safety, literacy, quality child 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 Schools, Harmony Community Schools 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 prizes will be given away being donated by the various vendors. Backpacks will be given away to children via a drawing this year as supplies last- children must be in attendance to receive a backpack!

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 5, 2012

Van Buren County School Supply and Backpack Drive

SIEDA, Van Buren County Child Abuse Prevention Council and the Van Buren County Post Offices are holding a school supply drive for the annual SAFE and Healthy kids fair. They will be accepting donations from Monday, July 9, 2012 to Thursday, July 20, 2012. 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, local banks or your local post office by July 20th 2012. For a list of supplies needed you may contact Donna at 319-293-3722.

BACKPACKS ARE ALSO NEEDED!!– if you would like to donate a youth 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 20th!  They will also be accepting school supplies this year!

Please consider helping a child in need get a good start back to school this year! The school supplies and backpacks that are collected will be given to Van Buren County children at the Safe and Healthy Kids Fair to be held at the Roberts Memorial Building on August 2, 2012 from 3:30 pm to 5:30 pm. 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.

The Truth behind Tobacco

By Taylor Diephuis

Have you ever car-pooled with someone that smokes? Have you ever had to leave a room or certain area because the smoke of someone’s cigarette is bothering you? Have you ever lost a loved one from lung cancer? Well, I have. Now, I want you to tell me all the good things about cigarettes you can think of. Pretty hard isn’t it?

As a smoker, you don’t think about all of the harmful chemicals in cigarettes. You think about how they help you cope with the daily stress, how they help you when you’re angry, help you relax at the end of a long day, or when you’re sad and lonely. But truthfully, smoking does the opposite of about everything we give it credit for
When you inhale the chemicals from the cigarette, it puts your body into a state of stress by sending thousands of harmful chemicals into your bloodstream with every puff you take. Carcinogens (chemicals that cause cancer) are some of those chemicals. So, really every time you take these chemicals into your body you are increasing the rise of getting cancer!

You think smoking won’t hurt you? That it isn’t a big deal right? 5.4 million Deaths occur each year from smoking! From the slowly increasing percentage of smoking, it is predicted that by 2015 there will be 6.5 million deaths per year. Over 443,000 Americans die from smoking a year, and 50,000 of them die or suffer from lung cancer from second hand smoking. Meaning people who have never even touched a cigarette are paying the price because they consumed YOUR smoke. Think of all that time you’re taking off of your life and other’s because of this nasty habit.

Tobacco use, whether it is in cigarettes, chew, snuff, etc damages your health and sometimes others. So for your benefit, please take my opinion on the truth behind tobacco use and stop wasting your life away. Life is short enough as it is. Think of all the wonderful things you could accomplish with those extra years you’re granting yourself. Quit Today!

For more information on Tobacco or Quitting please contact the Van Buren County SAFE Coalition at 319-293-6412 or Or find more information on the Coalitions website at Taylor is a freshman at Harmony High School and a member of the Van Buren County Youth Leadership Council.

Thursday, June 28, 2012

100 Things To Do To Beat Summer Boredom

Summer is half over and you may be thinking, saying, or hearing; “I’m bored”. Below is a list of 100 things you can do to beat summer boredom. Write each of these things on a piece of paper and put it into the summer fun jar and when you get bored draw one out and have fun! Challenge yourself to accomplish all 100 before school starts.

If your kids are suffering from summer boredom, let them come up with their own ideas for fun summer activities to put into the fun jar. When you let children come up with their own solutions to boredom, you’re helping them develop important problem-solving skills and they will take ownership in the activity.

As the summer progresses, new ideas can be added to the jar. Then when the children get bored, they can reach into the jar for a fun activity. And, you’ll be less likely to hear, “I’m bored!”

1. Go hiking in the park
2. Ride your Bike
3. Go swimming at the lake or pool
4. Paint a picture
5. Play a board game
6. Get out the hose and sprinkler
7. Go horseback riding
8. Go to the Library
9. Go on a nature scavenger hunt
10. Go fishing
11. Have a talent show
12. Go Camping
13. Have a pet parade
14. Hold a lemonade stand
15. Tie Dye Shirts
16. Build a sandcastle
17. Make a collage with magazine pictures
18. Have a pizza decorating contest
19. Go to a baseball game
20. Start a hobby
21. Scrapbook some photos
22. Go bowling
23. Go to a water park
24. Visit a museum
25. Do a science experiment
26. Pick a bouquet of flowers
27. Blow Bubbles
28. Make homemade ice cream
29. Have a fashion show
30. Finger paint
31. Create Sidewalk Art
32. Rent a canoe and go canoeing
33. Write a letter to a pen pal
34. Write or draw your own story book
35. Start a journal
36. Make a home movie
37. Play catch
38. Have a puppet show
39. Play twister
40. Wash the car at home
41. Go miniature golfing
42. Make mud pies
43. Have a picnic
44. Play croquet
45. Catch fireflies
46. Go hunting night crawlers
47. Color in a coloring book
48. Do a craft project
49. Paint your room
50. Throw a Frisbee
51. Fly a kite
52. Read stories
53. Throw water balloons
54. Play red rover
55. Have a garage sale
56. Build a fort
57. Play a musical instrument
58. Walk a dog
59. Go to a concert
60. Have a pancake party
61. Plant a garden
62. Go skateboarding
63. Play hopscotch
64. Do a good deed for a neighbor
65. Clean up trash in the park
66. Take pictures in nature
67. Play with play dough
68. Dance
69. Clean your closet
70. Design, plan and make a meal for the family
71. Conquer a Rubix cube
72. Hula hoop
73. Jump on a trampoline
74. Make root beer floats
75. Have a fashion show
76. Start a collection (stamps, rocks, coins)
77. Ride a 4 wheeler
78. Make a quilt
79. Go shopping at a garage sale
80. Read a magazine
81. Play horseshoes
82. Swing on a swing set
83. Bake a cake
84. Play baseball
85. Make a smoothie
86. Go to a fair
87. Play basketball
88. Play wiffle ball
89. Play charades
90. Go golfing
91. Build a Lego creation
92. Play badminton
93. Adopt a pet from a shelter
94. Have a pedicure party
95. Play beach volleyball
96. Jump rope
97. Read a newspaper
98. Play tennis
99. Create a new recipe
100. Go to a farmers market

For more information on how to get involved with your kids this summer visit the SAFE Coalition at or Van Buren SAFE Coalition on Facebook!

Thursday, June 21, 2012

Buzzed Driving is Drunk Driving – Plan Ahead this Fourth of July to Save Lives

While the Fourth of July should be a time of celebration with friends and family, too often it ends tragically with a death that could have been prevented. Sadly, this holiday is one of the deadliest holidays of the year for alcohol impaired driving crashes.

In an effort to reduce the number of fatalities in Van Buren County this July 4th, the Van Buren County SAFE Coalition is reminding everyone that Buzzed Driving is Drunk Driving and challenging all drivers to plan ahead this July 4th to prevent them or a loved one from becoming another statistic.

Impaired driving crashes killed more than 10,000 people in 2010, accounting for 31 percent of all traffic-related deaths in the United States. That’s an average of one alcohol impaired driving fatality every 51 minutes.

But the percentage of deaths from impaired driving spike around the Fourth of July. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), 392 people were killed in motor vehicle traffic crashes during the 2010 Fourth of July holiday period (6:00pm July 2- 5:59am July 6). Of those fatalities, 39 percent were in crashes that involved at least one driver or motorcycle operator with a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of .08 grams or higher.

Too often when people are celebrating on the Fourth of July, they aren’t thinking about the consequences that their actions could have on their family or on others. As people gather with their family and friends to celebrate our Nation’s birthday, we want to remind you to plan ahead to keep you and your loved ones safe.

Designating a sober driver is one of the many ways they are encouraging people to stay safe this Fourth of July.

The amount of alcohol that one can consume during a day-long party or celebration can drastically affect the motor skills necessary to drive safely. Add the fact that everyone else is out celebrating, and you have a recipe for disaster.

Nighttime can be particularly deadly for impaired drivers. The proportion of alcohol impairment among drivers involved in fatal crashes in 2010 was almost five times higher at night (6pm to 5:59am) than during the day (6am to 5:59pm). In fact during July 4th holiday period in 2010 more than 80 percent of alcohol-impaired driving fatalities took place at nighttime.

What is even more tragic about the statistics is that we see a high number of fatalities among 18- to 34-year-olds. Forty-six percent of the alcohol-impaired driving fatalities during the 2010 Fourth of July holiday period were within this age group. These are people who have their whole life ahead of them and in one instant, with one act of irresponsibility, they lose it all. It’s time for everyone to do their part and keep the roadways safe.

The consequences of driving impaired should be enough of an incentive not to drink and drive. There are numerous consequences that can result from impaired driving, such as possible jail time, insurance hikes, potential loss of driver’s license, harming and/or killing others, just to name a few.

The Van Buren County SAFE Coalition recommends these simple tips for a safe Fourth of July:
• Plan a safe way home before the fun begins;
• Before drinking, designate a sober driver;
• 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 the Van Buren County Sheriff’s Office;
• And remember, Buzzed Driving is Drunk Driving. If you know someone who is about to drive or ride while impaired, take their keys and help them make other arrangements to get to where they are going safely.

Just remember that Buzzed Driving is Drunk Driving, so always be responsible. Never get behind the wheel if you’ve been drinking. Designate a driver if you’re going to drink, call a cab or take public transportation if everyone in your group has been drinking. In the end, if everyone pitches in we can keep our roadways safe this Fourth of July.

For more information, please visit or You may also contact the Van Buren County SAFE Coalition at 319-293-6412 or

Monday, June 11, 2012

Fiction: Marijuana Is Medicine

Fact: Marijuana is not Medicine.

The scientific community has not approved marijuana as medicine. Many studies have been conducted to determine whether or not marijuana should be approved as a legitimate medicine. There are many rigorous and complex elements to the Government's approval of any drug that is used in medicine in this country. Should scientists conclude that marijuana should someday be considered a medicine; these same rigorous steps would need to be followed before doctors were permitted to prescribe it for their patients.

• The American Medical Association urges that marijuana's status as a federal Schedule I controlled substance be reviewed with the goal of facilitating the conduct of clinical research and development of cannabinoids-based medicines and alternate delivery methods. This should not be viewed as an endorsement of state-based medical cannabis programs, the legalization of marijuana, or that scientific evidence on the therapeutic use of cannabis meets the current standards for a prescription drug product. (American Medical Association, Council on Science and Public Health Report, November 2009)

• In 1999, the Institute of Medicine (IOM) released a landmark study, concluding that “there is little future in smoked marijuana as a medically approved medication.” In fact, the study found that there is little or no medical value to smoked marijuana for virtually any ailment it examined including muscle spasticity, movement disorders, epilepsy, or glaucoma. While the report recognized that THC may be potentially therapeutic for some conditions, such as vomiting, nausea, pain and appetite stimulation, the report recommended that further research be conducted into the possible use, in limited circumstances, for the specific active ingredient THC---but not smoked marijuana. (Institute of Medicine. “Marijuana and Medicine: Assessing the Science Base,” 1999)
• The National Multiple Sclerosis Society (NMSS) states that studies done to date “have not provided convincing evidence that marijuana benefits people with MS,” and this that marijuana is not a recommended treatment. Furthermore, the NMSS warns that the “long-term use of marijuana may be associated with significant and serious side effects.” (National MS Society. “Information Sourcebook.” National MS Society, December 2004)
• The British Medical Association (BMA) has voiced "extreme concern" that downgrading the criminal status of marijuana would "mislead" the public into thinking that the drug is safe to use. "In fact, it has been linked to greater risk of heart disease, lung cancer, bronchitis and emphysema." (“Doctors’ Fears at Cannabis Change,” BBC News, January 2004)
• The Deputy Chairman of the BMA's Board of Science has said that "the public must be made aware of the harmful effects we know result from smoking this drug." (Manchester Online. “Doctors Support Drive Against Cannabis.” Manchester News. 21 January 2004)
• In November, 2005, the Connecticut Chapter of the American Society of Addiction Medicine (ASAM) strongly opposed medical marijuana. A statement issued by Stephen Wyatt, OD and Dr. Mark Kraus states that their opposition is “in accordance with National ASAM policy on the grounds that there has been to date no critical research performed establishing its efficacy and safety…There is good evidence that the use of marijuana on a regular basis in adolescence is a strong marker for ensuing drug problems later in life.”

There are no smoked medicines. Have you ever heard of anyone who smoked medicine? After all we know about the dangers of cigarette smoking, why would the scientific community approve smoked marijuana? Someone who smokes marijuana regularly may have many of the same respiratory problems that tobacco smokers do, such as daily cough and phlegm production, more frequent acute chest illnesses, a heightened risk of lung infections, and a greater tendency toward obstructed airways. Cancer of the respiratory tract and lungs may also be promoted by marijuana smoke. Marijuana has the potential to promote cancer of the lungs and other parts of the respiratory tract because marijuana smoke contains 50 percent to 70 percent more carcinogenic hydrocarbons than does tobacco smoke. (National Institute on Drug Abuse, Research Report Series – Marijuana Abuse, October 2001)

Marijuana is currently an illegal drug and we encourage families to talk about the dangers of marijuana use with your teens. For more information please contact the Van Buren County SAFE Coalition at 319-293-6412 or by email at Or check out the information and resources on the following websites at or at

Friday, June 8, 2012

Iowa Alcoholic Beverages Division Provides Resources to Retailers

Iowa Alcoholic Beverages Division is the state agency that regulates alcohol sales in Iowa. ABD has recently enacted some programs and created some materials to assist retailers in making sure they are conducting business in a way that discourages illegal alcohol sales. Following are some resources that ABD has available.

The I-ALERT Policy Tool
I-ALERT, Under 21 Can't Be Done is a free tool aimed at helping retailers of alcoholic beverages create policies for their staff. The website,, guides businesses through the step-by-step creation of policies for alcohol sales. Business owners can create policies to help legally protect themselves, as well as use I-ALERT as a great tool for educating employees on Iowa law and responsible service.

The I-PACT is online!
Inside ABD, employees have created an alcohol compliance training program, with the passage of Senate File 240. The online alcohol training program has been named the Iowa Program for Alcohol Compliance Training (I-PACT). This program allows employees and prospective employees to go through alcohol compliance training and receive a certificate upon completion.

The program asks that a PACT is made for:
• Iowa kids not to consume alcohol products.
• Iowa retailers not to sell alcohol to minors.
• Iowa licensees not to serve alcohol to patrons under 21.
• Iowa’s law enforcement to enforce Iowa’s liquor laws.

For more information go to the website,

Alcoholic Beverage Laws & You
Iowa’s alcoholic beverages industry operates within the confines of a carefully cast partnership between the Iowa Alcoholic Beverages Division (Division), licensees and law enforcement officials. Close cooperation among these three entities is essential for regulation and enforcement of Iowa’s alcoholic beverages laws in order to achieve compliance.

The manual Iowa's Alcoholic Beverages Laws and You was developed to provide licensees, and their employees and agents, with the information needed to protect the welfare and safety of Iowans through compliance with laws addressing the manufacture, distribution and sale of alcoholic beverages. Download the entire manual to read and print as many copies as you'd like. (4mb PDF)

Additional printed copies can be ordered for $5 each. Contact Shannon Pogones at 515.281.3426 or to order. The order form can also be printed and mailed to the Division.

Monday, June 4, 2012

Bainbridge Receives National Opportunities

Van Buren County SAFE Coalition Coordinator Heidi Bainbridge has recently been selected for some national opportunities to showcase the successes the SAFE Coalition has experienced locally. Van Buren County has seen measurable reductions in youth alcohol and tobacco use over the last five years. These reductions are due in part by the strategies the coalition has implemented to affect youth access to these substances as well as changing the acceptability of underage use of these drugs. The measurable successes have caused national organizations to take notice of the work of the SAFE Coalition. Community Anti-Drug Coalitions of America (CADCA) awarded the coalition with the Got Outcomes! Coalition of the Year Award in 2011. This is quite an honor for a small town coalition in Iowa.

Bainbridge has been asked to share with others across the nation the strategies and work that led to the results that have been seen in Van Buren County. She spoke for the first time last year at the CADCA midyear conference in Anaheim, California on how to build a coalition in a rural community. She has been asked to return to Midyear again this summer in Nashville, Tennessee to speak on a similar topic: Community Mobilizing for Policy Change in a Rural Community. Bainbridge will also be serving as a personal coach at the Mid Year conference. Personal coaching allows new coalition leaders to learn from a seasoned coalition leader on the aspects of building a coalition. Bainbridge will primarily serve coalition members who live in rural areas and have questions about working in their specific community.

The SAFE Coalition’s work will also be featured on CADCA TV in June. The show is titled Understanding Your Influence and will feature Bainbridge as well as Sue Thau, CADCA Public Policy and Sue Parr from Community Coalitions of Virginia. The show will be a one-hour broadcast about transforming communities by mobilization and civic action. It will provide helpful hints on how to educate local, state and national decision makers and cover how to appropriately and effectively work for change, from local ordinances to national legislation. Viewers will learn how to become visible, vocal and, perhaps most importantly, valuable as you build relationships with policymakers.

Bainbridge was also recently appointed to the CADCA Coalition Advisory Committee to help guide the work of coalitions across the United States. The Coalition Advisory Committee, made up of 14 coalition leaders from across the country, is an important link between local coalitions and CADCA staff. The Committee ensures that CADCA’s programs accurately and effectively represent the challenges and concerns of community anti-drug coalitions. Its members:

• Provide input on the usefulness and quality of CADCA’s products and services in the areas of Public Policy and Research, Membership, Marketing, Training and Research
• Supply CADCA with quarterly feedback on emerging coalition successes, trends and challenges, including evaluation results and innovative program ideas
• Act as ambassadors to CADCA membership

Congratulations to the coalition for all of the success they have seen in the last 10 years. The good work of the SAFE Coalition in Van Buren County is getting noticed and the national work of coordinator, Heidi Bainbridge, will ensure that the issues of youth drug alcohol and tobacco use remain a priority for our community and our nation.