On March 26th students from the Van Buren County Youth Leadership Council along with the SAFE Coalition hosted Our Community. Our Health. Our Future. This was a town hall event that was supported by SAMHSA. This event brought awareness to the dangers of drugs, alcohol and tobacco in our community. Their goal was to share with the community the concerns that they personally have related to these issues.
SAMHSA town hall meetings are being held across the United States leading up to and in the month of April to support Alcohol Awareness Month. 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.
The event in Keosauqua did 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 had a community discussion about how we can stop this growing trend from having a detrimental effect on the youth of Van Buren County. Information about the use of e-cigarettes and other tobacco related products such as orbs, sticks and strips was also shared with participants.
Featured speakers at the event included Beverly Walsmith from the Iowa Tobacco Prevention Alliance, Jason Marlow, safety education officer with the Iowa State Patrol and Youth Leadership Council Members, Lydia Heald and Faith Murphy. These speakers spoke about the dangers of each of these drugs after participants had an opportunity to have a roundtable conversation about two questions related to the substances being discussed. This event allowed community members to also speak about their concerns and suggestions for making change.
There were 18 youth and 28 adults in attendance for this event. YLC members will be compiling all of the information obtained from this event to determine additional recommendations for their work and how they can have the greatest impact on these issues. They ended the evening by reminding the members of the community that this is “Our Community, Our Health and We ARE the future!”