Thursday, May 28, 2015

Poverty in Van Buren County

Disposing of Prescription Medicines and Over-the-Counter (OTC) Products

It is important that we understand the proper way in which to dispose of our medications.  Do not flush prescription medicines or OTC products down the sink or toilet!  Although using the toilet or sink prevents someone from accidentally taking the medications, disposing of them in this way causes water pollution and has adverse effects on septic systems, sewage treatment plants, fish and other aquatic wildlife. Trace amounts of all kinds of drugs have also been found in some drinking water supplies because they pass through septic systems and sewage plants untreated. 
Consumers have several options for disposing of prescription medications and OTC products safely. Remember to follow these instructions for pet medications, too!  By using these options, you will protect your privacy, discourage unintended consumption of the drugs and protect our water. 
  • Lee’s Pharmacy in Keosauqua can Take Back non-controlled medications for disposal.  They are currently checking into being certified to take back controlled substances by the end of the year.  People can discard their unwanted or unused medicines any time the pharmacy is open. People do not need to complete forms or answer questions about the items they drop off. (Needles are not accepted.)
  • The Fairfield Hy-Vee Pharmacy can Take Back non-controlled substances for disposal.  They also will be able to take back controlled substances for disposal in the near future. People can discard their unwanted or unused medicines any time the pharmacy is open. People do not need to complete forms or answer questions about the items they drop off. (Needles are not accepted.)
  • The Mt. Pleasant police station now has a Drop Box Drug Disposal program. People can discard their unwanted or unused medicines in this special locked box any time the police department lobby is open. Residents do not need to complete forms or answer questions about the items they drop off. (Needles or liquid medications are not accepted.)
  • Bring them to a special collection sponsored by the Van Buren County Sheriff’s Reserve Officers and the SAFE Coalition. These are scheduled annually. (Medicines are not accepted at Household Hazardous Waste collections.)
  • Schools that want to dispose of controlled substances should call the Drug Control Division of the CT Dept. of Consumer Protection for assistance at 860-713-6065.
Tips for Reducing the Need for Medicine and OTC Disposal: If possible, ask your doctor to give you a smaller amount of a prescription or a sample of a drug that you are taking for the first time to see if it works for you. This may save you money and will also eliminate the need for throwing the drug away if it doesn’t work for you. Do the same for animal prescriptions.  Look at the expiration date on OTC products. Will you be able to use all of it before the product expires? If not, maybe a smaller amount will do.  Look into mail-back programs for sharps. The Sustainable Hospitals website has a list of companies that provide sharps containers.
Best Way To Dispose
  • Some chemotherapy drugs may have special disposal requirements. Ask your health care provider about proper disposal.

For more information on the disposal of medications please contact the SAFE Coalition at 319-293-6412 or  

Thursday, May 21, 2015

Youth Leadership Council News

The school year has come to an end and with that most of the Youth Leadership Council (YLC) activities as well. The kids will be involved in a few things over the summer but no regular meetings will be held until school is back in session in the fall.

YLC members had a very productive year tackling the issues of underage drinking, tobacco use, marijuana use and the 7th graders even took on littering and worked to make their school and community a cleaner place.

YLC members took their bi-annual trip to Adventureland on May 2nd. Adventureland designates this weekend as a Substance Abuse Free weekend and offers groups and organizations discounted tickets to attend! There were 46 students from both Van Buren and Harmony that enjoyed the trip!

Also in May two graduating members of Youth Leadership Council received scholarships from the SAFE Coalition. A coalition member made a donation to the organization specifically for youth scholarships and this year’s recipients of the award were Kaylee Stockwell from Van Buren High School and Alena Whitaker from Harmony High School. Congratulations to both of these members on their accomplishments!

Students will have an opportunity over the summer to attend the ISTEP Summit being held in Fairfield, IA on June 26th. Students must register online for this event at The Van Buren County YLC chapter will help with transportation if necessary for students interested in attending.

Other activities that YLC members will be involved in over the summer include; a Car Seat Safety Check Day on June 27th and the SAFE and Healthy Kids Fair on July 28th. Two YLC members will be selected to attend the CADCA National Youth Leadership Initiative held in Indianapolis in August. 

Be watching for more Youth Leadership Council news over the summer and again when school starts in the fall. For more information on Youth Leadership Council activities or how to get involved you may contact, 319-293-6412 or check us out on the web at

Friday, May 8, 2015

Van Buren Community Schools and SAFE Coalition Supports OTC Literacy Program to Educate Tweens On Over-the-Counter Medicine Safety

Van Buren Community Schools and SAFE Coalition are teaming up with the American Association of Poison Control Centers and Scholastic to help educate tweens on the safe use of over-the-counter (OTC) medicines with a national OTC Literacy education program. The Van Buren Community Schools and SAFE Coalition will be implementing the OTC Literacy program during the month of May at the Van Buren Community Elementary School.  Research shows that tweens begin to self-administer medicine around 11 years old, or in fifth to sixth grade. In 2012, America’s poison centers managed more than 296,000 exposure cases involving children ages 6 to 19 and over half of these cases involved medication errors and misuse.[1]

Parents play a critical role in helping their tweens learn about the responsible use of OTC medicines. With approximately 10,000 children visiting emergency departments every year due to errors from self-administering OTC medications, it is important for parents and guardians to discuss the safe use and storage of OTC medicines with their tweens. The OTC Literacy program equips parents, teachers, and guardians with the necessary materials to help facilitate these critical discussions.

Below are the Top Five tips from the OTC Literacy program that are helpful as parents discuss self-administration, safe use, and storage of OTC medicines with their kids:

1.    Tweens should only use OTC medicines with permission and supervision from their parent or guardian.
2.    Always read and follow the Drug Facts label, and never take more than what’s directed on the label.
3.    Know what is in your medicine and never use more than one medicine with the same active ingredient.
4.    Always use the dosing device that comes with the medicine. Never use household measurement tools like teaspoons, tablespoons, or kitchen spoons.
5.    Storemedicines up and away and out of sight after every use.

Successfully launched in schools nationwide in 2013, the OTC Literacy program includes resources and engaging educational activities specifically designed for parents and teachers of tweens to increase knowledge of OTC safety and responsible use.  This month Dr. Blair, VBCH Doctor, Larry Thomas, Owner of Thomas Pharmacy, Heidi Bainbridge, SAFE Coalition Director, Mr.Pickens, 5th grade teacher, and Mrs. Jones, 6th grade teacher are sharing the OTC Literacy Curriculum with the Van Buren Community School 5th & 6th grade students. 

The program places special emphasis on the message that tweens should only take OTC medications with the permission and supervision of parents or guardians. Please visit for supportive tips on how to discuss OTC Literacy.  For more information on the program in Van Buren Community Schools please contact the SAFE Coalition at 319-293-6412 or at 

[1]Mowry JB, Spyker DA, Cantilena LR Jr, Bailey JE, Ford M. 2012 Annual Report of the American Association of Poison Control Centers’National Poison Data System (NPDS): 30th Annual Report. Clin Toxicol (Phila). 2013 Dec;51(10):949-1229


The Van Buren County SAFE 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 not provide alcohol at your graduation parties as the parties are in honor of your student.  Also please 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!

Monday, May 4, 2015

Van Buren Students Participate in Community Service Day

Students working at the Keosauqua Park 
On Friday, May 1st high school students from Van Buren High School participated in a day to give back to their communities for the third year. Julie Chapuis, Van Buren staff member, helped to organize the event this year. All students from the high school participated and were assigned service projects throughout Van Buren County.
The students began their day at 8:30 in the morning and worked hard until 2:45 in the afternoon. The projects the students participated in varied from painting projects to cleaning projects to yard work. The students felt a sense of pride being able to give back to a community that has been able to give so much to them.

All of the students and teachers who participated.  
The following were the sites where students volunteered their time on Friday; Douds Community Club; Douds Historical Preservation; City of Milton; Lacey State Park; VBHS- Trophy Case, Family & Consumer Science Room, Boiler Room, Library, Athletic Fields, mulch around the grounds and the High School Community Garden; Morris Park; Cantril Grassroots; Bentonsport Community; City of Birmingham; Country Lane Apartments; Van Buren County Hospital ; Riverview Country Club; Lake Sugema; City of Cantril; Roberts Foundation; Keosauqua Welcome Center; Keosauqua Community Garden; and Kids at Play project.

Principal Chuck Banks thanked the students for their participation at the end of the day and encouraged them to not let this be the only time they give back, “one day is better than none, but two is better than one” and asked them to continue giving back to those who have graciously supported them throughout their high school careers. “Planning the event was a great joy. Our community members were so grateful for the student help. Many students and local leaders were able to develop relationships as they worked together. ” said organizer Chapuis.

Thank you to all of the volunteers in the community and the school who made this event happen, without these people this event would not be the success that it was. Thank you also to all of the students who worked so hard to make the community a better place. If you are interested in more information about Community Service Day feel free to contact Julie Chapuis at the Van Buren Community High School 319-293-3183.