Monday, January 30, 2012

Iowa Youth Survey

The Van Buren County SAFE Coalition is committed to assessing the community on a regular basis. These assessments determine the effectiveness of strategies the coalition has implemented. All strategies are aimed to make a change to the local conditions of the community and ultimately effect the problems of underage drinking, youth tobacco use and youth marijuana use.
Iowa youth survey data for the county was collected in the Fall of 2010 and data was received at the end of 2011. The numbers for underage drinking in Van Buren County continue to trend downward for past 30-day use (see chart below).

Van Buren County Results- During the last 30 days; on how many days have you had at least one drink of alcohol (at least once)?
Past 30 Day Use
Fall 02 6th grade - 7% 8th grade - 27% 11th grade - 47%
Fall 05 6th grade - 16% 8th grade - 27% 11th grade - 53%
Fall 08 6th grade - 11% 8th grade - 32% 11th grade - 34%
Fall 09 6th grade - 6% 8th grade - 29% 11th grade - 51%
Fall 10 6th grade - 4% 8th grade - 26% 11th grade - 36%

The Iowa youth survey provides a variety of data points for schools and communities to track the trends of youth behaviors across Iowa. The Van Buren County SAFE Coalition will be providing information about the results of this survey over the course of the next year. A full report may be obtained from the coalition office or by visiting the state website at

If you are interested in more information about the Iowa Youth Survey, The SAFE Coalition or the work being done with the youth of Van Buren County please contact the Coalition at 319-293-6412 or You can also find information about the coalition at or on Facebook under Van Buren County SAFE Coalition.

Friday, January 20, 2012

The Value of Connections

School connection is the belief by students that adults in the school care about their learning and about them as individuals. Students are more likely to succeed when they feel connected to school. Critical requirements for kids to feel connected include not only high academic rigor and expectations but as importantly physical and emotional safety, support for their learning, and positive relationships with teachers and staff.

Strong scientific evidence demonstrates that the more a student is connected and the more students that are connected to school, the greater the decreases in absenteeism, fighting, bullying and vandalism and the greater the increases in educational motivation, classroom engagement, academic performance, and school completion rates.

The findings show that these seven qualities seem to influence students’ positive attachment to school:
• Having a sense of belonging and being part of a school
• Liking school
• Perceiving that teachers are supportive and caring
• Having good friends within school
• Being engaged in their own current and future academic progress
• Believing that discipline is fair and effective
• Participating in extracurricular activities

In the healthy development of children and youth, grades, participation, a sense of belonging, and relationships with students and teachers are important in feeling connected to school—and connected students do better. There are those who believe that schools should focus only on the acquisition of knowledge or that we expect too much from schools. However, current research across disciplines shows that non-academic aspects of school are also significant contributors to both school and student success.

Van Buren Community Middle/High School is making changes to help improve school connectedness and the climate of the secondary building. An improved appearance can be seen when entering the gymnasium doors with a “Welcome to Warrior County” emblem. Student projects and activities are being showcased in a display cabinet directly inside the front doors for anyone who attends school events and for other students to see what is happening! School staff is also planning the first WARRIOR Assembly.

What: WARRIOR Assembly
Date: January 27th
Time: 10:30am
Where: VB High School Gymnasium

This event will recognize students who represent the qualities of a WARRIOR-Work, Attitude, Responsibility, Respect, Involvement, Organization, Resilience, Service. These students have had perfect attendance, improved their GPA, are involved in extra-curricular activities as well as other special awards.

By making these changes the school hopes to foster additional connections with students. These connections will help to improve the climate, leading to the decrease in absenteeism, fighting, bullying and vandalism as well as increases in educational motivation, classroom engagement, academic performance, and school completion rates.

For more information please contact the Van Buren County SAFE Coalition at 319-293-6412 or

Thursday, January 12, 2012


• One in three 8th graders drinks alcohol.
• One in five teens binge drinks.
• Only one in 100 parents believe his or her child binge drinks.
• Teen alcohol use kills about 6,000 people each year, more than all illegal drugs combined.

MADD has launched a new program, Power of Parents, It’s Your Influence®, sponsored by Nationwide Insurance to help parents and caregivers of teenagers talk about the dangers of underage drinking. The program provides parents with a handbook and 30-minute workshop to equip them with the tools necessary to keep their teen safe.

Parents are the number one influence in their child’s decisions about drinking, Van Buren County SAFE Coalition wants to help parents use that power to have positive conversations about alcohol and ultimately prevent teens from drinking.

Power of Parents, It’s Your Influence® is based on a handbook model developed by Dr. Robert Turrisi from Pennsylvania State University. Through his research, Dr. Turrisi found that parents who used a similar handbook to talk to their college-aged kids about alcohol significantly reduced their kids’ drinking and behavior problems associated with drinking. MADD partnered with Dr. Turrisi to develop a similar handbook for parents of teenagers to help reach high-school aged kids.

The program offers 30-minute workshops, facilitated by trained staff and volunteers, to give parents the conversational tools they need to talk to their teens and reduce teen alcohol use as a result. These workshops are open to the public and are free of charge.

Parents can attend a workshop in the coming months! To register for a workshop, to host a workshop at your location, or for more information on MADD’s parenting initiative: Power of Parents, It’s Your Influence®, contact Heidi Bainbridge at 319-293-6412 or

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Founded by a mother who lost her daughter in a crash, Mothers Against Drunk Driving® (MADD) is the nation’s largest nonprofit working to protect families from drunk driving and underage drinking. With the help of those who want a safer future, MADD’s Campaign to Eliminate Drunk Driving® will end this danger on American roads. And, Power of Parents, It’s Your Influence® offers research-proven strategies to help parents keep their children safe from the dangers of underage drinking. One of the largest victim services organizations in the U.S., MADD also supports drunk driving victims and survivors – serving one person every 10 minutes – at no charge. To learn more about MADD, visit or call 1-800-GET-MADD. For victims/survivors, call 1-877-MADD-HELP.

Monday, January 9, 2012

Teens Selected to attend CADCA National Leadership Forum in Washington D.C.

Two Van Buren County Teens have been selected to attend the CADCA National Leadership Forum and the National Youth Leadership Initiative Experience. This event is being held in Washington D.C. February 6-9, 2012. Emily Jester, an 8th grade Van Buren Middle School student, and Faith Murphy, a 10th grade Van Buren High School student, were selected by a team of adult SAFE Coalition members who reviewed all applications submitted for the event. Their applications were rated the highest and were given the honor of attending this year.

CADCA's NYLI Experience is built on the framework of the National Coalition Institute's National Coalition Academy. In these sessions, both youth and their adult advisors learn how to help community coalitions be more effective in producing community change. The NYLI Experience helps coalitions build their capacity to foster youth leadership in the design, implementation and evaluation of action strategies addressing community problems. In addition, this training builds the relationship between the youth leader and the adult coalition coach.

The participants learn about the Strategic Prevention Framework (SPF), logic models, strategic planning, developing interventions, advocating for change, evaluation, and sustainability. The NYLI Experience is a CADCA workforce development strategy that teaches what is required to create and nurture the growth of committed leaders and their work within coalitions. It better equips youth and adults to develop an action plan that clearly defines the strategies that young leaders will carry out to address the problems and goals that the coalition is striving to affect.

It is an honor to be selected to attend this event. The coalition only sends two Van Buren County students each year based on applications of the YLC members. These teens should be commended for their hard work and dedication to their community! Congratulations Emily and Faith!

For more information on NYLI or the YLC Program please contact the Van Buren County SAFE Coalition at 319-293-6412 or