Thursday, March 27, 2014

April is Alcohol Awareness Month

Alcohol use by young people is extremely dangerous—both to themselves and to society, and is directly associated with traffic fatalities, violence, suicide, educational failure, alcohol overdose, unsafe sex and other problem behaviors. Annually, over 6,500 people under the age of 21 die from alcohol-related accidents and thousands more are injured.  Additionally:

  • Alcohol is the number one drug of choice for America's young people, and is more likely to kill young people than all illegal drugs combined.
  • Each day, 7,000 kids in the United States under the age of 16 take their first drink.
  • Those who begin drinking before age 15 are four times more likely to develop alcoholism than those who begin at age 21.
  • More than 1,700 college students in the U.S. are killed each year—about 4.65 a day—as a result of alcohol-related injuries.
  • 25% of U.S. children are exposed to alcohol-use disorders in their family.
  • Underage alcohol use costs the nation an estimated $62 billion annually.

Reducing underage drinking is critical to securing a healthy future for America's youth and requires a cooperative effort from parents, schools, community organizations, business leaders, government agencies, the entertainment industry, alcohol manufacturers/retailers and young people.

The Van Buren County SAFE Coalition is working to help reduce alcohol use by youth. They are raising awareness while encouraging people to make healthy and safe choices when it comes to use of alcohol. Do no supply alcohol to minors, monitor alcohol you have in your home and have conversations with your teens about the dangers of using alcohol before the legal age.

For more information on what you can do to reduce alcohol use by use contact the SAFE Coalition at or 319-293-6412. OR you can check out their resources at

Retrieved from NCADD alcohol awareness month

Monday, March 24, 2014

Our Community. Our Health. Our Future.

Our Community. Our Health. Our Future

Van Buren County SAFE Coalition in collaboration with the Van Buren County Youth Leadership Council Members and the federal government’s Interagency Coordinating Committee on the Prevention of Underage Drinking will hold “Our Community. Our Health. Our Future” – a Town Hall Meeting with parents, students, law enforcement, community members and health professionals to discuss underage drinking prevention. This event will start conversations, educate our community and encourage change that will make our community the best that it can be! Everyone is invited to attend!

Underage drinking is a pressing public health concern that affects the health and well-being of our nation’s youth, their families and our community. Underage drinking contributes to a range of costly health and social problems, including traffic fatalities, suicide, physical and sexual assault, brain impairment, alcohol dependence, academic problems and alcohol and drug poisoning. Underage drinking costs U.S. citizens an estimated $62.0 billion in 2010 for related medical care, work loss and associated pain and suffering.

This event will not only focus on underage drinking but also youth marijuana and youth tobacco use. More and more states are legalizing the use of marijuana for both medicinal and recreational uses and this is sending a message to youth that marijuana is “ok”. Youth Leadership Council members want to take a stand against this and have a community discussion about how we can stop this growing trend from having a detrimental effect on the youth of Van Buren County.

WHO: If you are a student, parent, grandparent, teacher, coach, city official, health care professional, or just a concerned citizen you should plan to attend this event! Your service to our community is valuable and we hope you are able to attend to learn more about what is happening in or community.

WHAT: Our Community. Our Health. Our Future. Will be structured with roundtable conversations, large group sharing and keynote presenters. Attendees will have an opportunity to share their thoughts related to these topics as well as suggestions or recommendations for strategies to make Van Buren County a SAFE place to live.

WHEN: Wednesday, March 26, 2014. Doors open at 6pm and the presentation will begin at 6:30pm. Refreshments will be provided

WHERE: Roberts Memorial Center, Keosauqua, IA

ADDITIONAL INFO: Free childcare will be provided

For additional information about the event please contact the Van Buren County SAFE Coalition at 319-293-6412 or email at

Kick Butts Day 2014

National Kick Butts Day activities were held across the country on March 19th. Kick Butts Day is a day dedicated to encouraging smokers to kick the habit and if you don’t smoke encouraging people to never start.

Van Buren County Youth Leadership Council (YLC) members held a variety of events and activities to bring awareness to the dangers of tobacco use. Van Buren High School YLC members attending the Van Buren Elementary Center and provided peer teaching to students in both 3rd and 4th grade. Their presentations shared the dangers of tobacco use and encouraged them to never begin using tobacco. A second high school group set up a table during the lunch hour to show the dangers of spit tobacco. It is not just about the smoke. There are a lot of harmful chemicals in chewing tobacco as well and YLC members wanted to make sure their peers are aware of these dangers.

Van Buren middle school YLC members had a variety of fun activities with their peers such as a basketball shootout and a piƱata!  In order to participate in these activities the students had to answer tobacco questions and learned about some of the dangers. A second group of middle school students did an assessment of their community to determine if there were smoke-free locations that needed signage. They provided window clings to businesses in need and made note of public places that could use additional metal signs that will be hung later this year.

Both Van Buren groups also held cigarette butt cleanup projects, one on the VBHS grounds and one at the Stockport City Park. The cigarette butts found on the grounds will be used to remind visitors of the smoke-free campus and discourage smoking in our local parks.

Harmony YLC members also spent time making posters that were hung in their school that shared the dangers of tobacco use. These students will also be doing a spring assessment of their school and doing a cigarette butt cleanup on the grounds.

All of these activities are a reminder to students and adults the dangers of using tobacco, not only for the smoker but those around them. If you know someone who uses tobacco and is interested in quitting the coalition has resources available. Do your part as well to remind youth to never being this addictive habit. For more information or resources you may contact the SAFE Coalition at 319-293-6412.

Thursday, March 13, 2014

Our Community. Our Health. Our Future.

Senior College/Career Readiness Week

The Van Buren Community School in conjunction with the Van Buren County SAFE Coalition, The Van Buren County Sheriff’s office, local financial institutions and Iowa Workforce held an educational event for graduating seniors. March 3rd-7th consisted of sessions that graduating seniors attended each day to help better prepare them for their exit from high school and entrance into college or the career world. The week got off to a rocky start with a snow delay on Monday but ground was quickly made up on Tuesday.

The Van Buren County Sheriff’s office reserve officers, Don Poole and Chris Kauffman held a session on personal safety. They spoke to the students about the importance of being aware of their surroundings, some basic self-defense and safety information they need to know if they are moving to a larger city to attend college, the military or start their career.

Three local financial institutions provided financial education and safety information to the students. Community First Bank, Libertyville Savings Bank and Farmers and Traders bank brought information on identity theft, financial security, credit card safety and money management as well as lots of fun giveaways. This session had great information for the students to help them be financially smart as they leave high school.

The Van Buren County SAFE Coalition and SEIDA Substance Abuse Agency provided the students with information about drug and alcohol safety. Students learned that they will be exposed to many new things as they leave Van Buren County and they want ensure they are prepared for the dangers of these drugs and the long term problems they may cause for their future. This presentation was innovative and got the kids up and moving to help illustrate the main message of the presentation.

The students spent one day taking the national career readiness certification. This test provided them with a score that employers will be looking for in the future as they hire new employees into the workforce. NCRC is a great opportunity for students because it increases employment opportunities and helps build a resume. Students received their scores right away and some are even talking about taking the test again to see if they can improve their scores. There has also been an interest from some local businesses to learn about implementing this certification as a part of their hiring process.

This was a very educational week for seniors. They learned many valuable skills they will be able to use for a lifetime. Plans are in the works for next year based on feedback from both the students and the presenters to make this event better in years to come. For more information about senior week you may contact Julie Chapuis at the Van Buren Community School- 319-293-3184 or Heidi Bainbridge at the Van Buren County SAFE Coalition 319-293-6412.

Monday, March 3, 2014

Do What’s Best for Iowa Youth! Iowa AC4C goes to Iowa Capitol for Substance Abuse Prevention Day on the Hill

On Wednesday, February 26th, the Alliance of Coalitions for Change (AC4C), a state-wide collaboration to effect positive change in substance abuse, met with the state legislators to discuss their concerns about underage drinking and substance use in Iowa.

The Van Buren County Youth Leadership Council was among several community coalitions, representing a mixture of Iowa’s rural and urban populations at this event.

Multiple prevention strategies are occurring throughout the state of Iowa, resulting in significant decreases in underage drinking.   Yet, major problems still remain:  Iowa still ranks in the top 10 states for underage (age 12-20) binge drinking.

The 2012 Iowa Youth Survey showed 19% of Iowa 11th graders reporting binge drinking in the past 30 days.  This is down from 24% in 2010.  This remains more than one out of every five 11th grader in Iowa that report engaging in binge drinking in the past month. 

Past 30 day use of alcohol and binge drinking numbers are decreasing for Iowa teens, but underage binge drinking is still very high compared to other states.  This is still an issue that needs to be addressed in our state and community.  

The AC4C press conference was held in the West Hall of the 1stfloor rotunda 11:30 A.M. until to 12:00 P.M. Media, legislators and the public were encouraged to attend.  Van Buren County’s own Lydia Heald spoke during the press conference to help inform our state of the issues in substance abuse that are facing our state currently.   

For further information, please contact the Van Buren County SAFE Coalition at 319-293-6412 or by email at or Jennifer Husmann at 319-721-4463 by email at