Thursday, May 24, 2012

Johnson wins $500 for Wellness Education at Van Buren High School

Wellness education at Van Buren Community High School is now $500 richer, thanks to the efforts of health-minded Youth Leadership Council (YLC) Member, Cassie Johnson.

A video created by the VBHS junior, Cassie Johnson, was awarded runner up in the “Youth in Action for a Healthy Iowa” contest which is sponsored by the Iowa Department of Education. For this honor Cassie won $500 to be used toward nutrition education in her school.

Johnson produced, directed and starred in the video which was shot and edited with the assistance of the YLC Coordinator. It showcases the variety of ways VBHS promotes healthy lifestyle choices. Cassie had many great ideas for the video and finding the healthy options to shoot was not tough given the multiple programs and offerings the school has made available to ensure student nutrition and fitness in the last few years. The video was chosen as a runner-up entry in the high school category by a panel of judges. Over 50 entries were received by Team Nutrition, a Department of Education branch that focuses on promoting healthy choices in Iowa schools.

Cassie chose to spend the money equally on nutrition and fitness information for the school. She used a majority of the money on fitness supplies to enhance the PE program and the student weight room. A series of updated videos were purchased that can be used during the aerobics unit for all students in PE. They could also be used by students and staff in the weight room before or after school or during the summer. Also purchased were new wall charts that will be hung in the weight room to show proper weight lifting techniques and muscles impacted. Cassie spent the other portion of her winnings on supplies to do an all-school smoothie demonstration. She found a recipe, purchased the ingredients and the machine to make mixed berry smoothies. She demonstrated how easy it was to make smoothies and that they could be a healthy summer treat – an alternative to ice cream! The smoothie maker used to demonstrate the smoothies was a unique single serve machine that goes from a mixer to an on–the–go sports cup. This mixer will be available for use by staff and students.

Congratulations to Cassie Johnson and Van Buren Community Schools for their dedication to nutrition and fitness. This hard work has paid off and now the students will reap the benefits of your success.

Thursday, May 17, 2012

AC4C Townhall Culmination Meeting & Roundtable

AC4C (Alliance of Coalitions for Change) is hosting a state-wide culmination meeting on May 30, 2012 to provide feedback from all of the town hall events held across the state of Iowa. The town hall events addressed underage drinking and the problems it can cause.

AC4C asked that all Iowa town hall organizers add specific questions to their participant surveys at their events. At the end of April those holding town hall events were asked to enter the data collected from their event to a survey online. AC4C hopes that after compiling the data from this survey they will be able to identify 1) The scope of the problem with underage drinking in Iowa 2) The accessibility to alcohol by underage drinkers- statewide and 3) What impacts youth across the state.

May 30th will be a day of learning and interactive roundtable discussions with guest speaker Robert Edwards ("Overcoming Old School Beliefs" & "Getting Families/Parents/ Youth into the Room") facilitating the day's events.

Robert Edwards has 34 years of law enforcement experience, 31 years of which have been as Chief of Police for the Dover Vermont Police Department. He is the History of Police instructor for Vermont Police Academy, a trainer for the Vermont EUDL START Team, is a member the Vermont EUDL Advisory Council, and an instructor in Community Policing. He has presented at the FBI National Academy and has appeared on Law Enforcement Television Network "Viewpoints" program, "Creating Media for Community Relations." He is a former co-publisher of a weekly newspaper and for the past 13 years has been teaching video production at Twin Valley High School. He regularly speaks at local, State, and National conferences on the effects of substances on adolescent brain development, changing community norms, and has developed a highly effective false ID education/enforcement program.

This event is open to anyone in the state interested in learning more about what they can do to reduce underage drinking. To register please visit

For more information on the events held in Iowa, The Townhall Culmination Meeting or underage drinking in Iowa please contact the Van Buren County SAFE Coalition by phone at 319-293-6412 or by email at

Thursday, May 10, 2012


The coalition has found that one of the largest problems facing our community today is the underage use of alcohol. As graduation time draws near, we encourage all families with high school seniors to take time to discuss the potential dangers that occur when alcohol is available at graduation celebrations or other parties your senior may attend these last days of the school year. They should consider the consequences they could face for consuming alcohol under the legal age.

Underage drinking can have varied consequences for the youth of Van Buren County. Making the decision to consume alcohol under the age of 21 could take away the chances of receiving financial aid in college. If convicted of alcohol use, it will be on their permanent record, which is something Federal Aid takes into serious consideration. They may not be able to practice the following careers in Iowa if convicted as well: accountant, architect, attorney, chiropractor, dentist, engineer, law enforcement, medical doctor, nurse, optometrist, pharmacist, physical therapist, physician assistant, psychologist, real estate broker, court reporter, social reporter, teacher, or veterinarian.

Most people would never think of violating laws related to drug use, but the community norm regarding use of alcohol is often thought of differently. Clear expectations and boundaries are important components of healthy community norms and values. Positive adult role models also play a significant role in establishing these norms. While it is legal for adults to consume alcohol, graduation parties are not held in honor of adults. Such celebrations are held in honor of the young person for their achievements and graduation from high school.

Please examine your personal beliefs about alcohol use by young people and the example set by our community during graduation time. We are hoping you will plan to join the many families who are celebrating their student’s graduation in an alcohol-free environment. Congratulations and best wishes to your high school senior and your entire family on behalf of the Van Buren County SAFE Coalition!

For more information about underage drinking or the SAFE Coalition please feel free to contact the office at 319-293-6412 or via email at If you are interested in what the SAFE Coalition has been doing please check it out on the web: or Van Buren County SAFE Coalition on Face Book!

Thursday, May 3, 2012

Talk to Your Teen about Alcohol

Kids who drink are more likely to be victims of violent crime, to be involved in alcohol related traffic crashes, and to have serious school related problems. You have more influence on your child’s values and decisions about drinking before they begin to use alcohol. Parents can have a major impact on their children’s drinking, especially during the preteen and early teen years. According to the 2010 Iowa Youth Survey:

 One in four eighth graders reports drinking alcohol within the past month.

 24% of eighth graders reports that during the last 30 days they have had 5 or more drinks of alcohol in a row on at least one occasion.

 49% of eighth graders say that it is easy to get alcohol in Van Buren County.

Prevention Strategies for Parents

• If you keep alcohol in your home, keep track of it. Make sure your child knows that they are not allowed to have unchaperoned parties/gatherings at home, but encourage them to have friends over when you are home! The more entertaining your child does in your home, the more you will know about your child’s friends and activities.

• Getting to know other parents and guardians can help you keep closer tabs on your child. This will make it is easier for you to call another parent who is having a party to be sure that responsible adult will be present and the alcohol will not be available.

• Be aware of your teen’s plans and whereabouts and make sure they know it is because you care about them not because you do not trust them.

• When parents establish clear “no alcohol” rules, their children are less likely to begin drinking. Some possible family rules are:

 Kids will not drink alcohol until they are 21

 Older siblings will not encourage younger ones to drink and will not give them alcohol.

 Kids will not stay at teen parties where alcohol is served

 Kids will not ride in a car with a driver who has been drinking

• Once the rules are clear and appropriate consequences will need to be put in place and used. Make sure the rules are ones you will enforce and that does not keep your child from communicating with you. A possible consequence might be temporary restrictions on your child’s socializing.

• Parents and guardians are important role models for children. Even if you use alcohol, there may be ways to lessen the likelihood that your child will drink:

 Use alcohol moderately

 Don’t communicate to your child that alcohol is a good way to handle problems

 Let your child see that you have other, healthier ways to cope with stress

 Don’t tell kids stories about your own drinking in a way that says alcohol use is funny or glamorous

 Never drink and drive or ride in a car with a driver who has been drinking

 When you entertain other adults, make available alcohol free beverages and plenty of food. If anyone drinks too much at your party, make arrangements for them to get home safely.

• Your attitudes and behavior toward teen drinking also influence your child. Avoid jokes about underage drinking. Never serve alcohol to underage drinkers. Remember it is illegal to provide alcohol to minors who are not family members.

• If your child’s friends use alcohol, your child is more likely to drink too. So, encourage your child to develop friendships with kids who do not drink and are healthy influences on your child. Get to know your child’s friends and encourage your child to invite them to family get-togethers, outings and spend time with them in other ways. Finally talk with your child about the qualities in a friend that really count, such as trustworthiness and kindness, rather that popularity or a cool style. When you disapprove of a friend it is best to point out your reservations in a caring, supportive way and limiting time with the friend with family rules, such as how after school time can be spent or how late your child can stay out in the evening.

• One reason kids drink is to beat boredom. So, encourage your child to participate in supervised activities that are challenging and fun. According to a recent survey of preteens the availability of enjoyable, alcohol free activities is a big reason for deciding not to use alcohol. If the community does not offer these types of activities, consider getting together with other parents and young teens to help create some.

A way for you to discourage alcohol use by teens in your family and in Van Buren County is to join the Van Buren County SAFE Coalition. By working with the coalition, which has members from the school and other areas of the community, you can help to develop policies to reduce alcohol availability to teens and to enforce consequences for underage drinking. For more information about the SAFE Coalition contact them at 319-293-6412 or visit us on the web at