Monday, March 28, 2016

Van Buren Kick Butts Day

By Sydney Goemaat and Rose Rankin

March 16th was national Kick Butts Day.  This day encouraged people to stop smoking for the day.  It also encouraged kids to get involved in activities to raise awareness about the dangers of tobacco. Every day more than 3,000 kids under 18 try smoking for the first time, and 700 kids become new regular daily smokers. The use of tobacco is still the leading preventable cause of death in the U.S, killing more than 480,000 people every year.

This is why the Van Buren High School YLC group set up a crime scene in the gym during all lunches on Thursday, March 16th to spread awareness about tobacco use. During the lunches students would come up to the scene and notice the outlines of bodies with a sign in the middle of them stating how they died. The causes of death were all from tobacco related uses that people do not take into consideration.

One lady in the crime scene died of Lung cancer. Smoking causes premature aging, premature wrinkles, and early aging of your lungs. Another lady died of a heart attack. Cigars produce more secondhand smoke than cigarettes due to their size, long aging, fermentation process and long burn time. There was a baby that died because of SIDS. Secondhand smoke increases the risk of sudden infant death syndrome. A man died of a stroke. Cigar smokers place themselves at risk for, mouth and lungs cancers, coronary heart disease, stroke, heart attacks and lung diseases. The last woman died of heart disease. Spit tobacco users have a higher risk of heart disease, hypertension and heart attacks.

For more information on the Youth Leadership Council or Kick Butts day please contact the Van Buren County Hospital at 319-29-3171 ext. 1271 or the SAFE Coalition at 319-293-6412 or at
YLC Members pictured: from left to right: TJ Rankin, Lauren Cochenour, McKenzie Perry, Rose Rankin and in the front Sydney Goemaat

Friday, March 11, 2016

Plan to Attend “A Colorful Future for Van Buren County Youth!”

Van Buren County Youth Leadership Council (YLC) and SAFE Coalition will hold “A Colorful Future for Van Buren County Youth” – Color Run & Town Hall Meeting with parents, students, law enforcement, community members and health professionals to discuss underage drinking & tobacco prevention. Everyone is invited to attend!

WHO: Speakers for the event will be Kitty Bogle, Pat McAvan and the Van Buren County Sheriff’s Office

WHAT: A Colorful Future for Van Buren County Youth will include the following:
Color Run/Walk from 5:00-6:00 pm
Free Will Donation Dinner cooked by the Van Buren County Cattleman at 6:00 pm
A Colorful Future for Van Buren County Youth presentation from 6:15-7:00 pm

WHEN: Wednesday, April 6, 2016. Dinner will be served at 6:00 pm with the program beginning at 6:15pm

WHERE: Roberts Memorial Center- Keosauqua

Extra-credit is being offered by select teachers for attendance at the event
Event T-shirts available for $10 with pre-registration by March 29th with Melissa Daugherty at 319-293-3171 ext. 1271. 

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. On the 2014 Iowa Youth Survey 11th grade students reported that 27% did have at least one drink of alcohol in the past 30 days and that 81% of them believe it would be easy to very easy to get alcohol in the Van Buren County area.   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. In 2013, underage drinking cost citizens of the United States $56.9 billion, according to data from the Underage Drinking Enforcement Training Center. These costs include medical care, work loss and pain & suffering associated with underage drinking.

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

For more information about the national 2016 Town Hall Meeting initiative, which is expected to involve more than 2,000 communities, please visit:

Keep the Streets Safe this St. Patrick’s Day! Don’t Drink and Drive!

As one of the country’s most popular holidays, St. Patrick’s Day has long celebrated the roots of 34.2 million Americans with Irish ancestry. But did you know that in 2014, there were 18 people killed in drunk-driving crashes on St. Paddy’s Day? This year, if you’ll be drinking alcohol, the SAFE Coalition has some advice for you: Don’t drink and drive.

Tragically, March 17 has become one of the nation’s deadliest holidays. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, during the 2014 St. Patrick’s Day holiday period (6 p.m., March 16, to 5:59 a.m., March 18), more than a quarter (28%) of all motor vehicle crash fatalities involved drunk drivers. The early hours of March 18 were even worse: between midnight and 5:59 a.m., nearly half of all crash fatalities involved drunk drivers. In fact, from 2010 to 2014, almost three-fourths of the drunk-driving fatalities during this holiday period involved drivers who had BACs well above the .08 legal limit, with 266 drunk-driving fatalities total. And keep an eye out for pedestrians who have had too much to drink; walking while intoxicated can also be deadly, as lack of attention and coordination puts drunk pedestrians at risk of getting hit by a vehicle. No matter how you plan to get home, remember: Drive Sober or Get Pulled Over.

A little good news? That number of fatalities over the holiday period has decreased from 2013. On St. Patrick’s Day in 2013, 32 lives were lost to drunk driving. Almost a quarter of all traffic fatalities were drunk-driving-related in 2014, which was a decrease from 2013 when over a third of all crash fatalities involved drunk driving.

We are greatly encouraged by the downward trend in drunk-driving fatalities. However, we still want to encourage everyone to make a plan before heading out to the festivities. Drinking and driving is dangerous and illegal. If you are caught driving drunk, you will be arrested. Designate a sober driver before you and your friends celebrate. Do not wait until you’ve already been drinking to find a sober driver, and never try to drive when you’re drunk. Drive Sober or Get Pulled Over. Even one drink is dangerous if you’re behind the wheel of a car.

Make 2016 safe. Use this party-planning checklist to stay safe this St. Patrick’s Day.
§   PARTY PREPARATION: Designate a sober, reliable driver to get you home safely.
§   ON ST. PATRICK’S DAY: Before you take your first sip of green beer, leave your keys at home or give them to a friend. Ensure your designated driver has committed to a sober evening. If you’re the designated driver, do not drink. Your friends are relying on you, as are the people with whom you share the road. Enjoy non-alcoholic beverages and tweet your VIP (very important party goer) status online using the hashtag #designateddriver.
§   EVERY DAY: First, commit to driving sober today, St. Patrick’s Day, and every day. Second, always keep the number of a friend in your phone or in your wallet so you have a backup plan if you find yourself in need of a sober driver. Last, be sure to download NHTSA’s Safer Ride app. Using your location, the app can help you contact a friend from your selected list of contacts. If you’re impaired, don’t let pride get in the way of calling a sober friend or family member to get you home safely. Help spread the word about the dangers of drunk driving, and the resources available to keep the streets safe.   

Fact: In 2014, on average, 1 person was killed every 53 minutes in a drunk-driving crash in the United States. That totaled 9,967 drunk-driving fatalities that year. Too many people are not getting the message: Drunk driving is deadly and illegal. In fact, even if you have a BAC under .08, you could still be arrested and convicted of drunk driving.  Alcohol not only dangerously impairs your driving skills—it impairs your judgement. If you see a friend drinking alcohol, make sure they don’t plan to drive home.

Not only is drinking and driving a crime that could land you with a hefty court bill and jail time, but you put yourself and others at risk. The consequences are often fatal. If you see a drunk driver on the road, contact local police when it’s safe to do so. You could save a life.  For more information, visit

Thursday, March 3, 2016

Van Buren County Youth Kick Butts on March 16, 2016

More than 400,000 people in the United States will die this year from a tobacco-related disease. On March 19, Kick Butts Day—Van Buren County Youth Leadership Council (YLC) Members are taking a stand to stop youth from getting hooked on deadly tobacco products.

We know that 90% of smokers start using tobacco regularly by the time they are 18. Isn’t this astonishing?

So in order to give kids a fighting chance, the YLC members plan to join thousands of students across the country who are taking part in Kick Butts Day, a nationwide initiative that makes students leaders in the effort to stop youth tobacco use. As part of the Kick Butts Day celebration, YLC members will be doing peer teaching at the Harmony and Van Buren Community Elementary Schools, Sidewalk Chalk Messages and Sandwich Boards in Keosauqua.

Consider these facts: Each day, more than 1,000 kids become new regular smokers; roughly one-third of them will die prematurely from a tobacco-related disease.  Today’s youth are not just part of the problem; they’re part of the solution. And the students from Van Buren County want tobacco companies to know that on Kick Butts Day and every day throughout the year, we’re going to fight them every step of the way!

For more information on YLC or Kick Butts Day please contact the SAFE Coalition at 319-293-6412 or at or Melissa Daugherty, YLC Youth Coordinator, at 319-293-3171.

Tuesday, March 1, 2016

Youth Suicide Warning Signs and How to Help

According to the Iowa Department of Public Health (IDPH), suicide is the 2nd leading cause of death for youth ages 5-14 and 15-24 years of age in Iowa. One way in which we can work to prevent suicides is to recognize suicide warning signs.  Adult suicide warning signs have been available, and recently a panel of national and international experts convened to identify youth-specific suicide warning signs.  These warning signs suggest that an attempt may be imminent and are published to help the public better understand the way youth think, feel, and behave prior to making life-threatening suicide attempts.   These warning signs, suggestions on how to respond, and additional resources are all available at:

The newly released youth suicide warning signs are:
1.       Talking about or making plans for suicide.
2.       Expressing hopelessness about the future.
3.       Displaying severe/overwhelming emotional pain or distress.
4.       Showing worrisome behavioral cues or marked changes in behavior, particularly in the presence of the warning signs above.  Specifically, this includes significant:
·         Withdrawal from or changing in social connections/situations
·         Changes in sleep (increased or decreased)
·         Anger or hostility that seems out of character or out of context
·         Recent increased agitation or irritability

Response suggestions include:
1.       Ask if they are ok or if they are having thoughts of suicide;
2.       Express your concern about what you are observing in their behavior;
3.       Listen attentively and non-judgmentally;
4.       Reflect what they share and let them know they have been heard;
5.       Tell them they are not alone;
6.       Let them now there are treatments available that can help; and
7.       If you are or they are concerned, guide them to additional professional help.

The main goal behind this initiative was to determine what changes immediately preceded suicide attempts or deaths; these changes are supported by research and rooted in clinical practice.  The experts involved in the development of these youth suicide warning signs reviewed and analyzed all available literature and conducted a survey of youth suicide attempt survivors, as well as those who lost a youth to suicide. A panel was then convened and consisted of researchers with extensive experience working with suicidal youth, public health officials, clinicians with decades of individual experience helping suicidal youth, school teachers, and various other stakeholders including individuals representing national organizations focused on suicide prevention. In addition, focus groups with youth and adults were held to gain their input on the findings and dissemination plans.

If you see these warning signs in someone you know please get them help by contacting a mental health services provider.  In Van Buren County there are two Mental Health Service Providers available to help youth and adults who are struggling with destructive thinking and other issues.  They are:
1.       Optimae: There is a 24/7 crisis assessment program available at VBCH at the Emergency Room, with licensed mental health professionals from Optimae available to assess and support people in crisis;  urgent care appointments are available for Van Buren County residents at Optimae in both the Van Buren and Jefferson County Optimae offices;  the Optimae Wellness and Recovery Center is also open and free for all residents, offering numerous support groups, including grief support and Love and Logic classes for parents - for more information call 641-472-5771. 
2.       R&R Counseling Solutions is new to the Community although Phillip Davis LMHC, NCC and Nancy Dewes LMHC, LISW, NCC have been working in the community for the last 7 years;  they have contracted with the Van Buren & Harmony Community School Districts to see children in the schools (they have provided these services to the schools for the last 7 years and are now providing the same services with R&R Counseling Solutions); The schools can be contacted to refer children in the schools or you may call 641-455-0636; they also have an office at 120 N Hwy 1, Birmingham, IA where they see adults and children from the community and surrounding areas; they work with people of all ages who are dealing with depression, anxiety, anger, abuse, grief, divorce and other issues that affect their well-being; they are committed to the community and are looking for ways to give back as they are able.

Other resources available to community members are the suicide prevention hotlines that provide free, confidential services:
·         National Suicide Prevention Lifeline: 800-273-TALK (8255) or online site; and
·         Your Life Iowa Line:  Call = 855-581-8111 or Text = 855-895-TEXT (8398) or chat =

Additional suicide prevention information, materials, and resources may be found on the IDPH Suicide Prevention page at:  For more information on local suicide prevention efforts, please contact the SAFE Coalition at 319-293-6412 or at

Through With Chew Week Gets Boost from Local Health Officials

Nationally dentists, otolaryngologists—physicians concerned with the ears, nose, and throat—have proclaimed the week of February 14–20, 2016, as "Through with Chew Week" in an effort to call attention to the use of smokeless tobacco.

In 2014, more than 5 of every 100 high school students (5.5%) in the United States used smokeless tobacco. The public awareness campaign is designed to reduce the use of smokeless tobacco among young people. 

Smokeless tobacco is not a safe alternative to cigarettes, as some young people believe, and it is even more habit forming because it contains a higher concentration of nicotine than cigarettes.  Smokeless tobacco can cause oral cancer, especially in the cheeks, gums, and throat. In addition, smokeless tobacco is addicting.  The use of smokeless tobacco can also lead to other oral problems, such as mouth sores, gum recession, tooth decay, bad breath, and permanent discoloration of teeth.

Through With Chew Week is sponsored by the Van Buren County Hospital and the Van Buren County Youth Leadership Council. For more information or for materials, please call the SAFE Coalition at 319-293-6412.